#CyberFLASH: The summer of cyber attacks

Apple Hosts Event At Company's Town HallTwo things can be said about Ottawa’s summer, so far. One is that it has been wet; the other is that it’s been raining cyber attacks on federal government websites.

The most recent have been nuisance attacks on the website of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, conducted by a little-known group called Aerith. Nothing sensitive was compromised, we were told. In mid-June, the hacker group Anonymous launched a more widespread denial of service attack (get used to the acronym DOS), as a protest against the passage of the new anti-terrorism powers contained in Bill C-51. Anonymous accompanied the cyber attack with a slick propaganda video on YouTube. The attacks temporarily disrupted the websites for the Senate, CSIS, its sister spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment (or CSE) and the Justice department.

A rain of cyber attacks, especially the relatively easy to mount denial of service attacks, may not be anything new, but the temptations of their use for purposes of political protest, which is likely on the rise, and the on-going vulnerability of federal systems, suggests that not all is well with Canada’s cyber security.

The Government’s original cyber security strategy was launched in 2010. It proclaimed three strategic pillars — securing government systems; working cooperatively with other governments at the provincial and territorial level and with the private sector, and helping individual Canadians to be secure online. Five years later it is not clear that any of these pillars are delivering on their promise.

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