20 November 2020

China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea could disrupt key Canadian critical infrastructure, intelligence agency warns


China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea could disrupt key Canadian critical infrastructure, intelligence agency warns

Nation-state actors from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are very likely developing cyber capabilities to disrupt Canadian critical infrastructure, such as the power grid, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS) warns. The warning comes in a CCCS's latest report titled “National Cyber Threat Assessment 2020” released Wednesday.

The report, which is based on both classified and unclassified sources, identifies current trends in the cyber threat environment, the likelihood that these cyber threats will occur, and how Canadians could be affected.

The intelligence agency states that China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea-linked nation-state threat actors pose the greatest strategic threats to Canada and they are “very likely working to develop cyber capabilities to disrupt Canadian infrastructure, such as the electricity supply, to further their goals.” However, CCCS said it was very unlikely hackers would intentionally try to disrupt important systems and cause major damage in the absence of international hostilities.

CCCS also predicts that state-sponsored hackers will continue to engage in cyber espionage operations aimed at stealing Canadian intellectual property and proprietary information, especially related to COVID-19.

“We assess that these threat actors will almost certainly continue attempting to steal intellectual property related to combatting COVID-19 to support their own domestic public health responses or to profit from its illegal reproduction by their own firms. The threat of cyber espionage is almost certainly higher for Canadian organizations that operate abroad or work directly with foreign state-owned enterprises,” the report said.

“However, many other states are rapidly developing their own cyber programs, benefiting from various legal and illegal markets to purchase cyber products and services,” the report continues.

State-sponsored attackers are expected to continue to "conduct commercial espionage against Canadian businesses, academia, and governments", CCCS warned.

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