Canada is known as one of the safest places in the world even though there are many dangers that threaten its security such as, terrorist attacks, the present refugee crisis and global warming. Howver, the greatest threat may be unknown to many: cyber security. As Canada’s critical infrastructure is reliant on computer systems, cyber espionnage is a part of some countries’ military tactics and terrorists are also moving to incorporate cyber operations.
Canada’s critical infrastructure consists of water supplies, power grids, telecommunication networks, public health records and a number of other vital systems. These all depend upon computer control systems to allow for seamless management. In the event of an attack on the critical infrastructure “it could cripple the economy and people’s way of life,” authors Peter Warren and Michael Streeter point out. For example, if an attack occurred on the health care system, it could shut the system down which could result in loss of lives.
Cyber espionnage is now an easy way for countries to get information from other countries including Canada. As Public Safety Canada has stated “intelligence and military services are well funded and persistent to gain political, economic or military advantage. Cyber spies are driven to obtain information about weapons, plans or any other important confidential information that could be used for sabotage.”
Terrorist groups use cyber operations to support recruitment, fundraising and propaganda. As Public Safety Canada explained “a number of terrorist groups including al Qaeda have expressed their intentions to launch cyber attacks against western states.” This clearly indicates that terrorist groups plan to use the dependency the western world has on cyber systems as a vulnerability to exploit.
Provided the evidence above, cyber security is and will continue to be a major threat to Canada’s security through critical infrastructure hackers, cyber terrorists and cyber spies.
Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed in articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NATO Association of Canada.