When I last wrote about cybersecurity, I mostly focused how much damage could be done by attacks, and the WannaCry attack that caused chaos worldwide in May. However, several massive attacks have been uncovered since then:
For example, Reuters recently revealed that critical infrastructure across Europe has been under constant attack from hostile governments across the world. In fact, these attacks even led to the infiltration of Ireland’s energy grid by hackers tied to Russia in mid-July!
Last weekend, the Epoch Times even revealed that access to critical infrastructure worldwide was being sold on the black market to the highest bidder! This marketplace, known as CMarket, sold databases on NATO and security agencies worldwide, information on government employees for espionage, and even access to systems used to control critical infrastructure!
Simply put, foreign governments, cartels and organized crime rings are hacking into critical infrastructure worldwide! Worse yet, defending against these attacks will not always be possible.
Security experts around the world have acknowledged that the tools hackers use to infiltrate systems are far more advanced than those developed to protect them, and that this will likely remain the case for a long time.
Until this gap in technology can be resolved, national cybersecurity must rely on threat reduction. In today’s blog, I will outline two key areas that Canada can focus on to modernize its cybersecurity policy.
So long as cyberattack technology continues to evolve far faster than technology meant to defend such attacks, infiltrations are inevitable. As a result, the most important part of cybersecurity policy involves recognizing that successful attacks will take place, and being able to respond and reduce the damage done by these attacks.
Historically Canada has been a leader in this area thanks to the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Center (CCIRC), which is able to mobilize quickly and respond to cyberattacks before they can spread or become major problems. It has also been an important tool that allows our government to create partnerships with the private sector and ensure the resilience of their systems!
However, CCIRC’s audits have shown that it needs more resources and people to address the ever-growing number of cyberattacks. Our government has taken an important first step by promising to expand CCIRC and widen its mandate, but this must be implemented quickly to ensure our protection!
Further, cybersecurity involves recognizing that even the most advanced protections cannot defend against human error. Most damaging cyberattacks on Canada would never have been possible if the attackers were not let into our systems by people who were unaware of what they had done!
For years, reports have shown that Canada has not put nearly enough focus on teaching Canadians about cybersecurity. Far too many people remain unaware of actions that could allow attackers to infiltrate organizations, like opening links or attachments in infected emails!
This is a vulnerability that we must address. The few barriers that we have against cyberattacks become useless if attackers are let in through our defences! Cybersecurity education must become a priority.
As long as tools used by hackers remain more advanced than cybersecurity tools, Canada must adapt its policy to address these problems and reduce the risk posed by hackers. Failing to do so means leaving our critical infrastructure at the mercy of foreign governments, cartels and organized crime!
Please look forward to my next blog, as I will be shifting the focus of this blog towards Canada’s national security legislation and how it impacts the rights of Canadians! On Monday, I will begin this series with a retrospective on the infamous Bill C-51.