Canadian security agency will soon be able to launch cyber attacks

The federal government has introduced new national security legislation it says will better protect Canadians’ freedoms, while keeping them safe. But as Vassy Kapelos reports, one former top spy is questioning it the bill will accomplish that.

Security officials in Canada will soon have the ability to launch cyber attacks against foreign actors, including terror groups and even other governments.

The move is part of a much broader series of updates to national security legislation announced Tuesday, and shifts Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) to a much more offensive posture when it comes to dealing with threats in cyberspace.

At the moment, CSE does not have the authority to take action online outside of Government of Canada networks to deter cyber threats against the country. But once this new legislation passes, CSE employees will be allowed to conduct both “defensive cyber operations” and “active cyber operations,” including operations that “advance national objectives.”

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“Currently we only have a defensive shield,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on Tuesday. “We have to wait to be hit.”

The targets of the “active cyber operations” (in other words, attacks) could include foreign groups, organizations, states and individuals who are involved in terrorist activity, are attempting to compromise national security, trying to disable key infrastructure, or spying on Canadians.


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