Feds roll out new cy­ber­se­cu­rity strat­egy to pro­tect from on­line at­tacks, crime


OTTAWA — The fed­eral govern­ment un­veiled its plan to bol­ster Canada’s de­fences against ne­far­i­ous on­line at­tacks and crime Tues­day, even as it ac­knowl­edged a short­age of skilled cy­ber-war­riors to meet the coun­try’s needs.

Back­stopped by more than $500 mil­lion in new fund­ing over the next five years, Ottawa’s newly re­leased cy­ber­se­cu­rity strat­egy lays out a range of ini­tia­tives to help Cana­di­ans, busi­ness and the govern­ment bet­ter pro­tect against cy­berthreats.

The strat­egy was the re­sult of nearly two years of con­sul­ta­tions with in­dus­try, aca­demics and other ex­perts, and up­dates the first such plan re­leased by the Harper Con­ser­va­tives in 2010.

It comes as the in­ter­net and dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy play an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in ev­ery as­pect of life, mak­ing many func­tions eas­ier and lead­ing to new eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties — but also open­ing the coun­try and Cana­di­ans up to new risks.

And those risks ap­pear to be in­creas­ing: The RCMP says that po­lice ser­vices across the coun­try re­ceived 24,000 re­ports of cy­ber­crimes in 2016, which rep­re­sented a 58 per cent in­crease over the pre­vi­ous two years.

There are also grow­ing con­cerns about the threat posed by for­eign states, ter­ror­ist groups and oth­ers who may try to tar­get the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity grids, bank­ing ser­vices, hos­pi­tals and elec­tion sys­tems.

The new cy­ber­se­cu­rity strat­egy does three things, start­ing with an in­creased em­pha­sis on de­tect­ing, de­ter­ring and pros­e­cut­ing cy­ber­crime, Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale said at a news con­fer­ence on Par­lia­ment Hill.

“We must sub­stan­tially strengthen Canada’s cy­ber­se­cu­rity ca­pa­bil­i­ties to bet­ter pro­tect our­selves and our sys­tems against evolv­ing cy­berthreats,” he said, “while also en­larg­ing our ca­pac­ity to com­bat cy­ber­crime and prosecute of­fend­ers.”

To that end, the RCMP will add new cy­ber-in­ves­ti­ga­tors and be­come the main fo­cal point for po­lice across the coun­try to re­port il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity on­line. It will also li­aise with for­eign part­ners to iden­tify po­ten­tial threats and crack down on crim­i­nal net­works.

The strat­egy also brings the var­i­ous cy­ber­se­cu­rity ef­forts un­der­way in dif­fer­ent fed­eral de­part­ments un­der a new Cana­dian Cen­tre for Cy­ber Se­cu­rity, Goodale said, which will be housed at the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Se­cu­rity Es­tab­lish­ment and open in the fall.

And it will at­tempt to help the pri­vate sec­tor, es­pe­cially small busi­nesses, which of­fi­cials say were the vic­tims of 71 per cent of data breaches, bet­ter pro­tect them­selves, in­clud­ing through a vol­un­tary cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram.

“They com­prise a huge chunk of the Cana­dian econ­omy,” Goodale said of small busi­nesses.

“And they are as in­ter­con­nected as the rest of us to their sup­pli­ers up­stream and to their cus­tomers down­stream, so if they have a cy­ber prob­lem, that whole net­work could be in­fected.”

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