#CyberFLASH: Canada, the Five Eyes – and the hackers’ arms race

RTX186RGIs Canada engaged in cyberwarfare? Should it be? Until now, it had seemed that the business of the Communications Security Establishment was gathering electronic information, not turning bits and bytes into weapons.

But a report from The Intercept and CBC News, based on documents from 2011, appears to show the U.S. National Security Agency and CSE working together on hacking into foreign networks, not only in the Middle East and North Africa, but also in Europe and Mexico. The document says that CSE can defend against electronic attacks, and can also carry them out, to “disable adversary infrastructure,” “control adversary infrastructure,” or “destroy adversary infrastructure.”

CSE has responded, saying that the documents do “not necessarily reflect current CSE practices or programs.” That sounds awfully close to a “Yes.”

This news comes while a House of Commons committee is studying Bill C-51, which would give much greater powers to another one of Canada’s intelligence agencies, CSIS. This convergence of events underlines the importance of clarifying and limiting the powers of the intelligence agencies, and putting in place robust oversight.

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