Canadian intelligence warns of growing cyber-threat

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The Canadian intelligence service has singled out cyber attacks as one of the biggest threats facing Canada in its latest annual report.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which is responsible for investigating threats to national security, said that politically motivated threats, or attacks against critical information infrastructure, are of particular interest to it.

Foreign states, extremists, criminals and politically motivated individuals top the organisation's list of bad actors that could use Canada's competing infrastructure against it.

Energy, finance and telecommunications are particularly vulnerable, according to the agency.

“The cyber-related capabilities of various extremist groups have been publicly described as limited at present, but their abilities are developing and evolving," the report said. “This was not a concern in the early days of CSIS as there was no broad, worldwide use of the internet to speak of."

Cellphones and satellite phones, along with “massive data storage drives that can fit in one's shirt pocket," now make communication between malicious actors far easier, CSIS mused. The organisation is working with municipal, provincial, national and international partners to identify potential terrorist threats, it said.

In June 2009, CSIS issued a top-secret memo warning that cyber attacks on government computers, along with academic and commercial machines, had been growing substantially.

In February this year, Chinese hackers were found to have targeted Defence Research and Development Canada, forcing the Finance Department and Treasury Board offline. This was the third major documented hacking attack against the Canadian government.
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