Federal government is concerned about state-sponsored cyberattacks

Published: October 30, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common, but the federal government is particularly concerns about attacks started by state-sponsored agents. The Canadian intelligence agency is worried about these attacks harming infrastructure.

Assistant deputy minister Scott Jones of the Communications Security Establishment intelligence agency confirmed the government is working with companies to improve their online defences. Among the work being done is how to combat data breaches.

“Targeted attacks on Canadian infrastructure is something we are really worried about,” Jones told Reuters.

“Do we think something’s going to happen tomorrow? No,” he said. “Is it technically possible? Yes, and that’s what we’re worried about.”

Jones says Canada is exposed to a “comparable” level of hacking activity as had been reported south of the border in the United States. He adds that the government will not typically make a breach or attack known to the public, usually because this means the attackers do not know they have been caught.

“We try to do it very quietly to help the company become more resilient,” Jones pointed out. “We’d like to try to give the defenders as much advantage as we can.”

Former Canadian Security Intelligence Service senior official Ray Boisvert believe firms in charge of infrastructure are not doing enough to defend against hacks. He says this may be because companies have not yet been affected and do not feel the need for protection.

 “We’ve yet to suffer a massive critical infrastructure attack and we’ve yet to suffer a massive loss of capability,” Boisvert said.

Boisvert says 60 nations have the network ability to carry out cyber warfare attacks, up from five nations half a decade ago.