#CyberFLASH: Canada – Aggressive defence needed against cyber threats, expert says


OTTAWA — Canada must aggressively deploy its spies and other intelligence capabilities against accelerating cyber threats to the country’s vital digital infrastructure, says a leading expert.

Angela Gendron, writing in the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, delivers a meaty 11,000-word assessment of the risks and dangers that digital technologies have wrought for the country’s critical infrastructure, from the machinery of government to public utilities, communications, transportation, energy and finance.

Those sectors and systems, once largely reliant on physical defences and geography for protection, are now heavily interconnected, networked and cyber-dependent. Everything from just-in-time supply chains to our water and money supplies are vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks, whether by foreign states, cyber jihadists, criminals or hackers.

With an estimated 60,000 malware variants launched virtually every day, the threat is beginning to rival that of Islamic terrorism, say Gendron and others.

Even though the current priority in Canada is international terrorism, there are growing concerns about the cyber-instrumented attacks attributed to government-backed hackers from China and Russia,” writes the senior fellow at Carleton University’s Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies.

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Canada warned of ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’ attacks

The escalating threat of cyber attacks requires a rethink in the government’s security priorities, experts and opposition critics said Friday in the wake of a stark warning from the American defence secretary about potentially devastating Internet-based threats.

Leon Panetta warned his own nation Thursday that businesses needed to better protect their own systems, as does government, to prevent a “cyber Pearl Harbor” – a cataclysmic cyber attack that would take down large parts of North American networks and be more devastating than the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Panetta’s warning comes after concerns raised earlier this week in Canada about potential Chinese spying through state-backed telecommunications firm Huawei, and the country’s ability to secure information after Sub.-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle admitted he took secrets from a secure facility using a USB key.

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Computer equipment firms seen as potential cyber threat to federal government

OTTAWA—The government fears nefarious firms seeking to sell computer hardware for a massive network overhaul could leave Canada vulnerable to hackers, spies and other cyber threats.

So the federal Public Works department is warning suppliers it will impose top-level security restrictions on companies competing to provide the cables, servers, switches, circuits and other equipment it needs to create a single government-wide e-mail system and turn more than 300 disparate data centres into less than two dozen.

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