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Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection

Increasingly, individuals, groups or organizations with malicious intent can attack Canada without having to set foot on Canadian soil. Canadians and Canadian organizations, companies and governments, are amongst the biggest internet users worldwide. Cyber-attacks have very real consequences.

Hostile cyber-actors come in both state and non-state varieties: foreign intelligence agencies, terrorists, misguided hacktivists, or simply individuals acting alone. These hostile actors have access to a growing range of cyber-attack tools and techniques.

As technologies evolve and become more complex, so too do the challenges of detecting and protecting against cyber-attacks. Foreign intelligence agencies are making increasing use of the Internet to conduct their espionage operations: it is a relatively low-cost and low-risk way to obtain classified, proprietary or other sensitive information. The Service is aware of a significant number of attacks against agencies at the federal, provincial and even municipal level. The Government of Canada, like those of other countries, witnesses serious attempts to penetrate its networks on a daily basis.

CSIS is aware of a wide range of targeting against the private sector in Canada. The main targets are high-technology industries, including the telecommunications sector. However, attacks against the oil and gas industry and other elements of the natural resource sector, as well as universities involved in research and development have also occurred. State-sponsored attackers seek information which will give their domestic companies a competitive edge over Canadian firms. State-actors have also been known to use cyber-attacks to disrupt political and economic activity as a means of influencing government decision-makers.

Because the threat from cyber-espionage, cyber-sabotage and other cyber-operations are part of a broader economic threat to key sectors of Canadian society, CSIS works closely with other government departments and international partners in order to remain abreast of the global threat. As outlined in the Government of Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy, the Service analyzes and investigates domestic and international threats to the security of Canada, responding to the evolution in cyber-security technologies and practices.

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