Yes, according to the former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The government should seriously consider providing the military the means to put down potential cyber-attack before they occur, said Richard Fadden the former director of CSIS and former national security adviser to prime ministers Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau.
CSIS is Canada’s national intelligence service. The service collects, analyzes and reports on threats to Canada’s national security. CSIS also conducts a covert and overt operation in Canada and overseas.
“If we are going to allow that we’re going to have Canadian Forces abroad and they are facing cyber-attacks, 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 said in an interview with CBC Radio’s The Current yesterday.
Currently, the military is restricted from taking an offensive cyber warfare stance. The armed forces are still developing its cyber defence capabilities.
Canadian soldiers deployed overseas face cyber-attack threats from state actors such as China and Russia as well as terror groups like ISIL. Fadden said Canadian troops need the capability to strike back.
“You don’t send people in harm’s way without doing everything you possibly can to avoid that harm being done to them, and I think most militaries that we are facing, for example in Iraq, some of the forces they are opposing have cyber capacity,” said Fadden.
There has been ongoing debate within North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members over whether the allied militaries should take an offensive cyber stance in the face of reports that Russia has been flexing its cyber warfare muscles.
Some defence analysts report that Russia augmented its military operation with a cyber-campaign when it moved to annex Crimea in 2014. There are also reports that Russia is poised to invest US$250 million to boost its cyber capabilities.
Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor and a leading expert on intelligence and cyber warfare, told the CBC, that the country’s Communications Security Establishment, which operates independently from National Defence, already has the ability to conduct offensive operations.
He said there is no need for the military to develop offensive cyber warfare capabilities when our United States and British allies already have such capabilities.
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