Ottawa fails on cyber security

Filed under: Cyber security |

Canada is leaving its cyber doors and windows wide open in a bad online neighbourhood, security experts warn.

And the federal government is floundering when it comes to developing a strategy for protecting citizens and industry against Internet threats.

The Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen’s University released a report Wednesday that showed Canada is not doing enough to protect citizens from cyber threats.

Those cyber security failings are highlighted in a new report on global and domestic security threats facing this country, released Wednesday by the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen’s University.

“(Canada) devotes relatively few resources to the problem, does not fully address the division of institutional responsibilities, and only barely nods at the importance of a foreign policy for cyberspace,” notes cyber security expert Ron Deibert in the report.

That Ottawa hasn’t set out a comprehensive strategy to find vulnerabilities and fix the weak links is one of the key problems, said Christian Leuprecht, one of the report’s editors.

Only the Communications Security Establishment – Canada’s electronic eavesdropping agency – is able to crunch large amounts of data, but doesn’t have an enforcement mandate.

Otherwise, a handful of federal agencies are tasked with handling parts of the cyber security puzzle – but Leuprecht says no one is looking at the full picture.

There’s no easy fix to the problem, cautioned Leuprecht’s colleague, David Skilligorn, but while the U.K. is leading the way on cyber security in the Western world, the Conservative government is just “thrashing around.”

He points to efforts by the government to tackle online spam and the recently tabled lawful access bill as prime examples of its ineptitude on this file.

“Because they don’t understand the problem, they’re making it worse, not better,” he said.

But Skillicorn noted “the penny is starting to drop” following a series of High-profile cyber attacks in recent months, including reports Nortel’s bankruptcy was linked to Chinese hackers.

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau.