#CyberFLASH: Canada’s national cyber threat centre looking to expand

a-woman-uses-her-computer-keyboard-to-type-while-surfing-the-internet-in-north-vEveryone looks forward to April 1 as a sign that spring will really be here. Gwen Beauchemin, director of the federal government’s Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC) is looking forward to it even more.

That’s because her budget for the new fiscal year starting on that date will allow here to up its staff to 87 from 43, which will help it expand its threat gathering capabilities as well as its threat intelligence services to Canadian organizations.

“We’re very thankful that we’re seeing messages now that the [new Liberal] government would like us to be more forward leaning and outward,” she said in an interview, “so I can only think that will raise awareness and the success of getting that information out to all.”

The centre, part of Public Safety Canada, has 1,200 provincial, municipal and private sector subscribers in the country — largely organizations in critical infrastructure — a number she’d like to substantially increase.

It pulls in over 1 million pieces of spam a day and identifies 300,000 different vulnerabilities. In 2015 it discovered over 87 million new pieces of malware.

The centre categorizes information in four levels based on the Traffic Light Protocol used by 14 countries. Each level carries increased risk to privacy or operations if misused: White, data that can be share with anyone (like a publicly announced Microsoft bug); Green, information that can be shared only with peers, and not via publicly accessible channels.; Amber (shared only with people the centre knows in its trusted community, and only with those who need to know,); and Red (limited distribution, unless it’s urgent).

Unlike the U.S., where a wide range of association-led private sector threat information sharing and analysis centres (ISACs) have sprung up, most of CIRC’s members are organizations.

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