Canada is a high risk espionage target, security agencies warn

Technology from state-owned companies and enterprises from other countries pose security risks to Canadian businesses, the country’s security agencies warn.

In a recently released document, initially reported by CTV news, state-owned companies and enterprises in foreign countries, such as China are using modern technology as a means to expand their economic and military objectives.

The warning comes after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) organized two workshops last March aimed at educating citizens about emerging threats to the countries critical infrastructure, including cyber attacks, terrorism and sabotage, espionage and foreign interference, the document said.

The document was released to The Canadian Press in response to an access-to-information request.

The report notes that the theft of US intellectual property, led by countries like China, costs the nation billions of dollars each year.

Huawei national security threat

In 2016, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) also warned that both Russia and China were targeting Canada’s secret intelligence. The news emerges after senators urged the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudea, not to incorporate Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in its ongoing 5G network development, adding that it could potentially affect Canada’s national security.

Senators from Canada also warned that Huawei’s involvement in the 5G development could also damage the relationship between the U.S. and Canada.

The workshop led by the RCMP’s critical infrastructure team also said that a “supply chain attack”, also called a value-chain or third party attack, could be used to infiltrate a weak link in a computer’s system, according to CTV news.

John Townsend, a CSIS representative, said that new issues have arisen as companies within Canada use and install equipment that is controlled by, or affiliated with, foreign governments.

“Strategic and economic benefits”

“These foreign governments may pursue not only profitable commercial objectives, but may also try to advance their own broader and potentially adverse strategic and economic interests,” he said.

According to the report, Townsend said these tactics are used to grant remote access to sensitive systems, which allows hosts to steal sensitive data, he added.

The CTV report also states that the document warns authorities about spear-phishing attacks that allow users to gain unauthorized access to organizations’ systems, send out emails, and trick employees into releasing sensitive data such as passwords.

The RCMP has urged companies working on new research to develop and execute effective risk management protocols.

The CTV report states that the document says companies should contact the authorities if they detect any suspicious activity: “All infrastructure sectors should remain engaged with RCMP and CSIS to share security intelligence.”

Written by Islam Soliman