#CyberFLASH: Government of Canada Supports Cyber Security Research

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OTTAWA — The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, today launched the Cyber Security Cooperation Program (CSCP), a new five-year funding initiative to support projects that will contribute to the security of Canada’s vital cyber systems. Minister Blaney also announced the program’s first call for proposals.

A total of $1.5M in grants and contributions will be available for initiatives that will improve cyber security in Canada by increasing access to tools, guidelines and best practices by industry, critical infrastructure and government.

“By supporting projects that contribute to greater cyber security, our Government continues to underscore its commitment to defending Canada and to securing vital cyber systems, as outlined in Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy.”

– The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

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#CyberFLASH: Cyberattack Briefing Notes Won’t Provide Public With ‘Specific Details’

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OTTAWA – If there’s a major cyberattack on Canada, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney will not be giving the public “specific details” of the incident, newly released briefing notes indicate.

However, the minister won’t be at a complete loss for words if he follows the carefully crafted script he’s been provided for just such a terrible occasion.

“Cyberattacks are a global phenomenon,” Blaney is advised to tell Canadians.

“Canada and other countries face escalating cyberthreats — these threats are real and continue to mature.”

Stephen Harper’s office has been roundly criticized in recent years for micromanaging cabinet ministers and the public servants who toil in their departments.

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#CyberFLASH: Feds lagging on cybercrime, hurting economy, Canadians, RCMP boss tells minister

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OTTAWA ― The RCMP commissioner has quietly warned Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney the government must do more to fight cybercrime — an expanding threat the top Mountie says is undermining the economy and putting Canadians at risk.

In a letter to the minister, commissioner Bob Paulson notes one pillar of the government’s cybersecurity plan focuses on both providing the public with information to protect themselves online and strengthening the ability of law-enforcement agencies to fight cybercrime.

“It is my view that the government needs to focus more on this pillar of the strategy,” Paulson says. “This growing threat significantly impacts the economic prosperity of our country, as well as individual Canadians.”

The letter, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, was prepared for Blaney as part of an extensive briefing package sent to the new minister, who was appointed in July.

Accompanying briefing notes say, while efforts to secure the online world have progressed under the federal strategy announced in 2010, “a gap remains” concerning law enforcement’s ability to effectively tackle cybercrime.

The offences — which take on “a new scope and gravity” in cyberspace — include child exploitation, cyberbullying, Internet-based mass marketing fraud, identity theft, intellectual property infringement, money laundering and illegal goods trafficking.

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Tories finalize cyber security plan

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OTTAWA — A crucial — and missing — piece in the government’s strategy to keep its systems and information safe from cyber-attacks has been circulated to federal departments and will be released by mid-June — eight months after a scathing report from the federal auditor general.

That report found the government’s cyber security strategy was missing an action plan that lays out who was to do what in the event of a digital attack or breach, as well as set goals that could be used to measure how far the government has come in its cyber-security goals.

In late February, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was told that the plan was finished and approved by assistant deputy ministers in at least seven government departments.

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Government could be handcuffed during cyber attack affecting private sector

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OTTAWA — A targeted cyber attack on a private company or organization controlling a piece of Canada’s critical infrastructure could leave the federal government on the sidelines, able to offer help but with no guarantee that it would be accepted.

Nor would there be any way for the federal government to force companies to accept its involvement should a targeted hack take down critical infrastructure such as electrical plants, water systems or rail, an issue identified during two cyber exercises last year.

“Not clear what the federal government could actually do. The federal government does not ‘solve’ the problem for the affected entity, only coordination and providing advice. Ultimately, it’s up to the entity to fix the problem,” reads a summary of issues and questions arising from the summer exercise.

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Canadian Government Pans BlackBerry PIN-to-PIN Security

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BlackBerry smartphones may not be as secure as users think, according to a memo that Canada’s Public Safety department sent to government workers recently.

The memo was obtained by Postmedia News under Canada’s freedom of information law. The Canadian news agency reported this week that the one-page note distributed in January by the Public Safety department’s cyber-security unit singled out PIN-to-PIN messaging as “the most vulnerable method of communicating on a BlackBerry.”

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Federal government kills Internet-snooping bill

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OTTAWA — Almost one year after introducing its controversial Internet-surveillance bill, the federal government has conceded the legislation is officially dead due to public outrage.

Shortly after tabling new legislation that incorporates some of the less contentious elements of Bill C-30 related to emergency wiretaps, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson admitted Monday that the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act will not proceed.

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Companies not investing enough on cyber-security, government documents say

OTTAWA — Canadian companies may be skimping on IT security, leaving themselves and Canadians vulnerable to attacks from hackers, newly released records suggest.

The documents from Public Safety Canada show that the scale of cyber-security threats “is significant” and many companies don’t invest the required money or time in good IT security.

How to solve this problem is something the Harper government has been investigating, according to records released to Postmedia News under access to information laws. They included a meeting with a cyber-security expert at an American conservative think-tank who has argued against any form of government intervention in IT security.

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