Security Strategy, Plan, Budget

Canada suffers from poor cyber security, says memo

Canada's cyber security risks are greater than the government believes, according to internal documents. The country faces economic risks from hackers that it lacks the tools to combat, according to the document.

An August 2011 memo to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews from William Baker, his deputy minister at the time, was obtained under Canada's access to information laws. The document warns that poor cyber security in Canada is affecting national security, public safety and economic prosperity. Intellectual property theft was highlighted as a particular threat.

“All new knowledge obtained indicates the problem is more widespread than previously thought,” the memo reportedly said.

The memo was revealed just months after a report from the Wall Street Journal said that Canadian telecommunications equipment manufacturer Nortel had been hacked for a decade by intruders probably based in China. They stole technical papers, research reports and employee emails, among other assets, according to an investigation by Brian Shields, a former systems security adviser to Nortel.

"The government lacks a strategic perspective on cyber space and has invested neither the capital nor the leadership necessary to address cyber space as a critical strategic domain for Canada," warned Rafal Rohozinski, CEO of the SecDev Group, an Ottawa-based research and operations consultancy specializing in cyber security and information warfare. "I fear that it will take a significant event before the right resources will go into developing a national strategy on cyber space for Canada."

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