Fed­eral gov­ern­ment needs help tackling cy­berthreats, in­ter­nal re­port warns

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - COMMUNITY LISTINGS / NEWS - Jim Bro nskil

OTTAWA — The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment is “sim­ply not up to the over­all challenge” of fend­ing off cy­berthreats on its own and must part­ner with the pri­vate sec­tor and the United States to tackle the prob­lem, warns a fed­er­ally com­mis­sioned re­port.

Canada is a prime tar­get for cy­ber­crime, state- spon­sored at­tacks and lone hack­ers, and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have a cru­cial role to play in help­ing fend them off, the au­thors con­clude.

“The pro­duc­tiv­ity and com­pet­i­tive­ness of Canada in the dig­i­tal age will re­quire a strong de­fence of its crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion and tech­ni­cal in­fras­truc­ture,” the re­port says.

“Cur­rent ef­forts by gov­ern­ment, in­dus­try and com­mu­ni­ties need to be bet­ter co-or­di­nated and more strate­gic.”

The Cana­dian Press used the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act to ob­tain a fi­nal draft ver­sion of the April 2016 re­port on cy­berthreat in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing pro­to­cols and poli­cies in Canada and the United States.

The re­port comes amid grow­ing con­cern about dam­ag­ing in­tru­sions into com­puter sys­tems that ex­pose per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, com­mer­cial se­crets and sen­si­tive gov­ern­ment data — en­dan­ger­ing ev­ery­thing from credit rat­ings to na­tional se­cu­rity.

The dis­clo­sure of pil­fered Demo­cratic Party e-mails proved em­bar­rass­ing to pres­i­den­tial con­tender Hil­lary Clin­ton when pub­lished by Wik­ileaks. The U.S. says Moscow led the at­tack, though Rus­sia has de­nied in­volve­ment.

Three years ago, the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment blamed a so­phis­ti­cated, Chi­nese state-spon­sored ac­tor for a breach of the Na­tional Re­search Coun­cil’s net­works that re­sulted in a shutdown of the re­search agency’s in­for­ma­tion-tech­nol­ogy sys­tem. Beijing ac­cused Canada of mak­ing ir­re­spon­si­ble al­le­ga­tions.

How­ever, Canada’s spy agency has openly warned that China and Rus­sia are out to steal na­tional se­crets. Un­der Canada’s cy­ber­se­cu­rity strat­egy, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is re­spon­si­ble for se­cur­ing its own sys­tems, work­ing with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments and pri­vate sec­tor to keep other sys­tems safe and help­ing Cana­di­ans to pro- tect them­selves on­line.

The re­port, pre­pared for Pub­lic Safety Canada by con­sult­ing firm Price­wa­ter­house­coop­ers, found the gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion-tech­nol­ogy com­mu­nity is al­ready over­whelmed with challenges such as ag­ing sys­tems and a move to cloud com­put­ing.

At the same time, few small busi­nesses have full-time com­puter se­cu­rity staff.

The lat­est fed­eral budget promised $77 mil­lion in new money over five years to bol­ster cy­ber­se­cu­rity.

The re­port rec­om­mends broader en­gage­ment of the pri­vate sec­tor, say­ing Cana­dian gov­ern­ment bud­gets, re­sources and ca­pa­bil­i­ties “are sim­ply not up to the over­all challenge.”

It calls for closer col­lab­o­ra­tion with the U.S. to take ad­van­tage of the bil­lions of dol­lars Wash­ing­ton is spend­ing on cy­ber­se­cu­rity. It also urges more co-op­er­a­tion with small- and medium-sized busi- nesses in devel­op­ing so­lu­tions.

The re­port also cau­tions that any ef­fort to ramp up sur­veil­lance and in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing to counter threats in cy­berspace must be bal­anced with re­spect for pri­vacy and per­sonal lib­er­ties. It says that means build­ing in strict cri­te­ria on the use of in­for­ma­tion as well as suf­fi­cient over­sight.

Ottawa re­cently wrapped up a na­tional cy­ber­se­cu­rity con­sul­ta­tion. The aim is to iden­tify gaps and op­por­tu­ni­ties, come up with fresh ideas and cap­i­tal­ize on the ad­van­tages of new tech­nol­ogy.

The rec­om­men­da­tions of the com­mis­sioned re­port will be taken into ac­count as part of the cy­ber­se­cu­rity re­view, said Pub­lic Safety spokes­woman Karine Mar­tel.

“Keep­ing Cana­di­ans safe while pro­tect­ing their pri­vacy rights re­mains a pri­or­ity for the gov­ern­ment and will be re­flected in the pol­icy and pro­gram de­ci­sions that stem from this on­go­ing re­view.”

Post­media Net­work files

Canada is a prime tar­get for cy­ber­crime, state-spon­sored at­tacks and lone hack­ers, and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have a cru­cial role to play in help­ing fend them off, a fed­er­ally com­mis­sioned re­port says.

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