Gangs, States and ‘Geeks’ Behind Canada Cyberattacks: Minister

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Cyberattacks on Canadian government computers by what a minister described Tuesday as gangsters, rogue states and “geeks in basements” are on the rise, but are also failing more, according to a report.

The nation’s ultra-secretive eavesdropping agency or Communications Security Establishment (CSE) however concluded that Canada is not doing enough to fend off intruders.

“Some of it is just nuisance,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters. “Some of it is criminal in intent.”

“It comes from organized crime. It comes from rogue states. It comes from foreign militaries. It comes from geeks in the basement,” he said.

In the report, the CSE found that the government blocks more than 600 million attempts each day to identify or exploit system vulnerabilities.

Between 2013 and 2015, this included more than 2,500 state-sponsored cyber attacks. The culprits were not identified, but Ottawa previously said that China was responsible for a major cyberattack on its National Research Council in 2014.

“Although more than six percent of these attempts breached the government of Canada’s systems in 2013, this number had fallen to less than two percent in 2015,” it noted.

Still, Ottawa’s investment in security systems remains “inadequate,” the CSE said.

The government’s outreach to the private sector has also largely failed because, according to the agency, “private sector companies seem to lack trust in the public sector’s ability to safeguard their information.”

According to a senate committee studying cybersecurity and cyberfraud, eight million Canadians fell victim to a cybercrime last year.

Goodale said cyber crimes cost businesses around the world an estimated Can$400 billion each year, and that figure is predicted to rise to Can$2 trillion annually by 2020.

Given allegations of Russian meddling in last year’s US presidential vote, Ottawa is also taking measures to safeguard its elections.

The CSE warned in a separate report earlier this year that “almost certainly multiple hacktivist groups will deploy cyber capabilities in an attempt to influence the democratic process in 2019,” when the next federal elections are scheduled.

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© AFP 2017

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