Federal government facing ‘serious’ cyber attacks from state-sponsored hackers and terrorist groups: CSIS
TORONTO — The federal government is facing “serious” cyber attacks on a daily basis, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said in its annual report released Tuesday.
Increasingly numerous, capable and aggressive state-sponsored hackers and terrorist groups are making regular attempts to penetrate government computer networks, it said.
“Canada remains both a target for malicious cyber activities, and a platform from which these hostile actors conduct CNO (Computer Network Operations) against entities in other countries,” the report said.
State-sponsored cyber-espionage and influence activities targeting the private sector are also taking place, especially in the advanced technology sector and critical infrastructure, it said.
The latest annual report from CSIS actually covers two years, 2014 to 2016, because no report was issued last year. While cyber attacks were highlighted, it said terrorism remained Canada’s top security threat.
Eleven Canadians died in terrorist attacks in five countries last year, and 15 Nepalese security guards protecting the Canadian embassy in Kabul were killed, it said. “Canadian Armed Forces personnel, government officials and private citizens are under constant threat in certain regions.”
Stabbings at a military recruiting office in Toronto and an attempted suicide bombing by an ISIL supporter in Ontario also underscore the threat within Canada, it said. The report was drafted before the Quebec City mosque attack so it was not mentioned.
“It should come as no surprise that terrorism and violent extremism remained the most immediate threat to Canada’s national security during the period covered by this report, and represented our top priority,” said CSIS Director Michel Coulombe.
“The number of terrorism-related threats, the speed at which they evolve, and the use of technology and social media, has created some very real and complicated challenges for the service.”
With ISIL on the retreat in Syria and Iraq, foreign fighters who return to the West to radicalize others, fundraise and plan attacks within Canada “pose a potential threat,” he said.
At the end of 2016, 60 “extremist travelers” had returned to Canada and 180 with “a nexus to Canada” remained active abroad, the report said, using figures CSIS has long repeated.