Canadian Security Magazine

Emerging cyber threats require more vigilance, says study

By Canadian Security   

News Data Security fraser institute

Given the growing number of international cyberattacks, the Canadian and U.S. governments must intensify their efforts to protect respective national interests, according to a new study released today by the Fraser Institute.

“In a sense cyberspace is the new Wild West, where very little in the form of international law is operating,” said Professor Alexander Moens, co-author of Cybersecurity Challenges for Canada and the United States, Fraser Institute senior fellow, and political science professor at Simon Fraser University.

“Cyberattacks continue to increase in quantity and quality which is why, in the absence of formal international agreements, North American resilience in cyberspace must be heightened.”

There have been several recent high-profile examples of international cyberattacks including the flurry of Chinese-based attacks against Western political, military, and industrial targets; U.S.-Israeli cooperation to develop and deploy the Stuxnet computer worm against Iran’s nuclear program; and various Russian cyber operations as part of a new form of hybrid warfare.

While quantifying the economic damage of such cyberattacks is challenging, Moens notes that some estimates have pegged the total cost of global cyber incidents at between $375 billion to $575 billion a year.


The study also emphasizes the advantages of cooperation between Canada and the United States and their affiliation with the Five Eyes — an intelligence arrangement which also includes the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

“Canadians should not underestimate the benefits they gain from America’s willingness to share advanced capabilities because clearly, U.S. intelligence budgets dwarf Canadian ones,” Moens said.

“And, while the U.S. possesses cyber intelligence capabilities that are significantly more advanced than most states, without its allies, it’s not able to gather the volume of information it needs.”

But what about concerns regarding privacy and personal liberties?

Moens suggests that increased surveillance at home and coordination with foreign allies necessitates the need for greater oversight of Canada’s cybersecurity and intelligence agencies.

“As Canada updates its ability to deal with threats in cyberspace, it needs to enhance the ability of its representative government to oversee this important work. The idea of an all-party committee in Parliament, advocated by some observers, is a good step.”

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