Canadian government not prepared to stave off cyberattacks – Canadian Government Executive

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January 13, 2017

Canadian government not prepared to stave off cyberattacks

While the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump is being buffeted by reports of Russia’s alleged hacking activities in the United States, Canadians have less reason that they probably believe to feel safe against cyberattacks.

Documents from the Public Safety Canada indicate that the country is a prime target for cybercrime, state-sponsored cyberattacks, and lone wolf-type hackers.

Consulting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers prepared for the federal public safety and emergency organization by which revealed that Canada’s federal information technology systems are ill-equipped to handle potential cyberattacks.

The report said Canadian government budgets, resources, and capabilities “are simply not up to the overall challenge,” according to the Canadian Press.

Click on the image below, to access the Geospatial Canadian Disaster Database.

The Canadian Disaster Database (CDD) contains detailed disaster information on more than 1000 natural, technological and conflict events (excluding war) that have happened since 1900 at home or abroad and that have directly affected Canadians. 

The report recommended the federal government engage the public sector to help the Ottawa deal with its cybersecurity challenges. For instance, the government can co-operate with small and medium-sized businesses in developing cybersecurity solutions. It also suggested closer collaboration with the U.S. which spends billions of dollars on cybersecurity.

However, the report cautioned that surveillance and information-gathering aimed at countering cyber threats must be balanced with people’s privacy and personal liberties. The report said strict criteria for the use of collected data, as well as sufficient oversight, should be created.

Early last year, security vendor FireEye also released a report which warned that Canada and other western nations remain the targets of more than a dozen hacker groups which may or may not have ties with the Chinese government.

FireEye said that between 2013 and May 2016, the company’s customers experiences 262 cyber breaches which have been traced to 72 suspected China-based groups in 26 countries, including Canada.  The company did not reveal how many of the incidents involved Canadian firms or government departments.

In the U.S. the country’s top intelligence community officials last week briefed Trump on what they believed to be Russian-backed cyber-snooping activities interfered with the 2016 presidential elections which compiled potentially harmful information to both Republican and Democratic parties.

Part of that briefing information from a non-U.S. intelligence report which indicated Russian operatives had compromising personal and financial information on Trump.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Trump slammed the U.S. intelligence agencies saying “who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies “were responsible for the document.

Canada’s spy agency has openly said that China and Russia are not intent on stealing national secrets.

In 2014, the Canadian government said Chinese state-sponsored hackers broke into the National Research Council’s computer networks. The attack resulted in the shutdown of the agency’s system.

Back in 2011, the networks of the finance department, Treasury Board, and the Defence Research and Development agency were forced to go of offline in the face of a sustained cyberattack. The breaches were attributed to actors from inside China.

About this author

Nestor Arellano

Nestor is a Toronto-based journalist who specializes in writing about technology and business. He is the editor of Vanguard Magazine and the associate editor of IT in Canada and a regular contributor to CGE.

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