#CyberFLASH: Former CSIS head says Canada should have its own cyber-warriors

richard-faddenCanada’s former top spymaster says the country’s military should have the legal authority and capability to not only defend itself, but also to go on the attack in cyberspace as well.

Richard Fadden, the former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the ex-national security adviser to prime ministers Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, says he’s argued in the past that the threat in the online world is as serious as terrorism in the physical world.

At the moment, the Canadian military’s nascent cyber capability is restricted from going on the offensive to protect itself. Documents obtained by CBC News show that National Defence appears to be struggling to develop even a defensive stance.

“If we are going to allow that we’re going to have Canadian Forces abroad and they are facing cyberattacks, either communications or other, I think it’s totally reasonable to think seriously about whether or not we should give them the capacity to reach out and suppress before they are used against them,” Fadden told CBC Radio’s The Current on Wednesday.

The issue is partially framed in the Liberals’ defence policy review statement, which asks the public what sort of role the military should play in the online battle space.

Debate over whether Western militaries should adopt an offensive, or defensive, posture in cyberspace has been raging for months, particularly in the halls of NATO. The military alliance struggled to come up with a clear, coherent policy in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

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