CSIS warns state-sponsored espionage threat to Canada

The head of Canada’s security intelligence service (CSIS) has issued a new warning that foreign interference and state-sponsored espionage in the country has reached unprecedented levels and that 5G technology could bring further risk to the countries economy, according to report published by The Globe and Mail.

Speaking at an event in Toronto, the CSIS director David Vigneault said that foreign countries are using a variety of methods to steal privileged and classified intel from the countries largest organizations, including universities, political institutions, and the military.

Mr.Vigneault noted that dealing with terrorism is the countries priority, but he called foreign espionage as “the greatest threat” to Canada’s “prosperity and national interest.”

The CSIS director did not mention any specific countries or companies behind the efforts against countries, but his remarks coincided with a sharp escalation of concern over Chinese interference in domestic politics.

“Many of these advanced technologies are dual-use in nature in that they could advance a country’s economic, security and military interests,” he said.

“CSIS has seen a trend of state-sponsored espionage in fields that are crucial to Canada’s ability to build and sustain a prosperous, knowledge-based economy,” he said. “I’m talking about areas such as AI [artificial intelligence], quantum technology, 5G, biopharma, and clean tech. In other words, the foundation of Canada’s future growth.”

Huawei Technologies criticism

Huawei is under heavy pressure from countries in the West, which claim the company is either working alone or being forced to work alongside the Chinese government to use its technology to gather information on countries in the West.

Mr. Vigneault’s remarks come as three of the country’s Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group have banned wireless carriers from using 5G networks made by China’s Huawei technologies.

Five Eyes is a group that shares information about terrorist activity, security, and espionage. The group shares intelligence with allies such as the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

New Zealand, Australia, and the US have all blocked companies from using telecoms equipment developed by Chinese firm Huawei due to security concerns.

However, Canada and Britain are yet to ban companies from using the firm’s technology.

On Tuesday, the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) director intensified the espionage debate surrounding Huawei. Alex Younger, the chief of SIS, said that the UK should not use Huawei technology when developing the country’s 5G infrastructure.

Canada and UK conducting security reviews

Both Canada and Britain are now conducting security reviews of the Chinese company’s 5G technology.

More recently, the US has urged its countries like the UK and New Zealand to ban Shenzhen, a China-based telecommunication supplier for the country’s 5G network.

According to a document detailing China’s national Intelligence Laws, all companies “shall support, cooperate with and collaborate in national intelligence work, and maintain the secrecy of national intelligence work they are aware of.”

Huawei technologies have refuted claims that its technology poses a risk to Canada and other Western countries.