In the News

Nov 11, 2019

U.S. legislators are proposing legislation they say will enhance science education and cybersecurity programs within federal agencies and eventually cyber defence in general. The bipartisan measure also would include new incentives to drive the recruitment of cybersecurity educators.

Nov 11, 2019

The U.S. Justice Department has unveiled an interagency Procurement Collusion Strike Force it says will “deter, detect, investigate, and prosecute antitrust crimes and related criminal schemes.” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen says that when prospective suppliers rig bids for government contracts, it results in inflated prices and added costs for all taxpayers.

Nov 11, 2019

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio wants the Department of Defense to look into reports that Chinese surveillance technologies are in use at U.S. military facilities. In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Rubio says “every day that passes only provides our adversaries additional time to infiltrate and exploit our national security.”

Nov 11, 2019

U.S. federal prosecutors say two former Twitter employees used their system access on behalf of Saudi Arabia to collect personal information on dissidents. The Department of Justice says it will not permit U.S. companies or technologies to become “tools of foreign repression."

Nov 11, 2019

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is reportedly considering the use of self-screening terminals as an answer to frequently long lines at airports. The technology could be made available through the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program which has more than nine million registered users.

Nov 11, 2019

A flaw in the Mac and Windows versions of Mozilla’s Firefox browser evidently has been used to dupe users into thinking their systems will be disabled if they don’t take action by calling a toll-free number. Mozilla says it is working on a fix for inclusion in an upcoming Firefox release.

Nov 11, 2019

Facebook has disclosed that as many as 100 app developers retained data from user groups on the platform. While the social media giant had changed settings to ensure developers could only see basic information, it recently became aware that some developers maintained access to names and images after the change went into effect.

Nov 11, 2019

Nearly 100 contracts will be up for grabs, including a dozen valued at more than $100 million, when the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency’s 2020 budget is finalized.

Nov 08, 2019

Bail has been revoked for Cameron Ortis, the senior RCMP official accused of preparing to leak sensitive information. He was granted bail Oct. 22 but an Ontario Superior Court judge has ordered him back into custody until his trial. The reasons for Justice Marc Labrosse’s Nov. 8 decision are under a publication ban, as are details of the Crown’s review application.

Nov 08, 2019

Aventura Technologies Inc. of Long Island, N.Y., is alleged to have sold some $20 million in Chinese surveillance and other sensitive security equipment to U.S. customers after claiming they were manufactured in the U.S. Its customers included the Defense and Energy departments. U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said the situation, which has led to a criminal complaint, raises “a grave concern” about cybersecurity.

Nov 01, 2019

A data breach last December at The Desjardins Group, a Quebec-based financial services company, is turning out to be worse than previously reported. The number of members of the cooperative affected originally was reported at 2.9 million in June but Desjardins President and CEO Guy Cormier disclosed Nov. 1 that the breach affected 4.2 million members.

Nov 01, 2019

A Beijing company’s takeover two years ago of a U.S. social media application which has evolved into the increasingly popular TikTok short-form music video app is facing national security review by the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Two Senators are leading the charge, alleging that such apps could be used for espionage or become subject to foreign influence.

Nov 01, 2019

A cybersecurity report by Forrester Research of Cambridge, Mass., warns that the next decade can expect to see criminals and other “bad actors” to step up their use artificial intelligence and machine learning. It says the potential losses to business could top $250 million in 2020 alone.

Nov 01, 2019

Facebook has agreed to pay a £500,000 fine imposed by the British Information Commissioner’s Office over its role in the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal. However, the social media giant, without pleading guilty to violating the U.K. Data Protection Act, says it has made major changes since the scandal made headlines internationally.

Nov 01, 2019

The advent of the so-called Dark Web evidently is affording criminals more opportunities to conduct their activities in ways which are difficult for law enforcement to track, according to the Rand Corp. The U.S. think tank recently collaborated on a workshop which identified a number of ways to address the challenge.

Nov 01, 2019

Senior government officials say the U.S. is seriously lagging on how it can deal with threats to next-generation 5G and supply chain networks. Among other things, they told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that there is neither a comprehensive national plan nor a fully coordinated interagency response.

Oct 31, 2019

Details are sparse but Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, is scheduled to visit Ottawa Nov. 6 for talks with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland about the new North American trade agreement. Neal also is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Oct 30, 2019

Machine learning technologies could become the U.S. military’s first line of defence against cyberattacks and other suspicious activities. The Defense Information Systems Agency has begun seeking out commercial cybersecurity tools that could detect and respond to incidents across the agency’s numerous networks without direct input from humans. Automation and machine learning are seen as a way to free Department of Defense personnel to concentrate on other threats.

Oct 30, 2019

U.S. federal agencies. are outsourcing more of their information technology work, a trend hown in details of the government’s 2019 fiscal documents. Their spending on cloud and IT management in 2019 nearly doubled from the previous year, to some $12 billion or 18 per cent of federal IT spending.

Oct 29, 2019

After weeks of political seesawing, British voters head to the polls in a Dec. 12 general election, the results of which will effectively be a referendum on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s determination to take the U.K. out of the European Union. With Parliament deadlocked, he put forward a motion which passed 438-20 in the hope that a majority win will be a mandate for Brexit.

Oct 29, 2019

A suspected state-sponsored cyberattack shut down more than 2,000 websites in Georgia, including court sites containing case materials and personal data, as well as the former Soviet satellite’s national TV station. Sources say Georgian government websites are poorly protected and vulnerable.

Oct 29, 2019

The White House is being asked to explain reports that senior cybersecurity officials are being forced out because their tenure dates to the previous administration. Pressing for answers, California Democrat Representative Ted Lieu says the potential loss of institutional knowledge leaves the government vulnerable.

Oct 29, 2019

Dominic Barton, Canada's new ambassador to China, has met with Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadians held by Beijing since last December in apparent retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. Barton, appointed in early September, evidently met with Kovrig Oct. 25 and Spavor three days later.

Oct 28, 2019

The Privy Council Office has confirmed that there were some online attempts to disseminate disinformation and misinformation during Canada's latest general election campaign, but nothing of a nature to justify public alert notices. Meanwhile, Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould says there still is a sense that more need to be done to contain this use of social media.

Oct 28, 2019

Faced with a possible delay in the delivery of a key communications satellite by Airbus Defence and Space, Britain is working on procurement of long-lead items required for the Skynet 6 program. Britain wants the satellite in service to ensure communications are not compromised as the current ADS-supplied Skynet 5 constellation ages.

Oct 28, 2019

Opposition parties in the British House of Commons are gearing up for a Oct. 29 vote on whether to call a snap election – a day after defeating a motion by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to have an snap election to reinforce his Brexit campaign. Meanwhile, European Union leaders have agreed in principle to what the European Council’s Polish president, Donald Tusk is calling a “flextension”of the European Union’s deadline, until Jan. 31.

Oct 25, 2019

Microsoft Corp. has secured a $10-billion Department of Defense contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud data storage program. Amazon Web Services, sole host for the U.S. intelligence community’s cloud storage for six years, had been considered the front-runner in the often litigious bidding process.

Oct 25, 2019

Wanting to find out whether it can function without the global Internet, Russia plans to begin testing its internal RuNet, starting Nov. 1 and recurring at least annually. It’s seen as the latest move in a series of technical and policy steps to cut citizens off from the rest of the world. The announcement follows approval last April of a Sovereign Internet Law which require all traffic to pass through official channels.

Oct 25, 2019

Three weeks into the 2020 U.S. fiscal year, with Congress trying to finalize the budget, the White House is locking down cybersecurity priorities within broad reform of information technologies. Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent says there is strong interest in identity management strategies, enhanced security measures for public services, and automated network monitoring for government agencies’ cyber operations.

Oct 25, 2019

Paying for President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico as well as the use of military personnel to provide additional security has again become a major roadblock to reaching congressional agreement on spending bills. The ongoing impasse could result in another government shutdown in less than four weeks.

Oct 24, 2019

Facebook has suspended Instagram and Facebook accounts linked to Russian efforts to manipulate America’s 2020 election. That came several hours after Czech Republic officials said they had dismantled a Russian espionage cell, disguised as a cybersecurity company, in anticipation of a wave of cyber attacks.

Oct 24, 2019

British and U.S. national security officials say that hackers believed to be Russian have used Iranian cyber tools and digital infrastructure to launch attacks on government and industry groups in at least 35 countries. The Turla group, widely believed to be Russian in origin, used the Nautilus and Neuron tools to target military, government, academic and scientific organizations, mostly in the Middle East.

Oct 24, 2019

In a bid to break a parliamentary deadlock over his promise to take Britain out of the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pinning his hopes and possibly his own political future on the outcome of a general election. He plans to ask the House of Commons to vote Oct. 28 on having an election Dec. 12.

Oct 24, 2019

A draft Advancing Cybersecurity Diagnostics & Mitigation Act, which would give state and local governments access to a federal cybersecurity suite, has been endorsed by the U.S. House Homeland security committee. The core Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program launched by the Department of Homeland Security six years ago offers a suite of tools and services which feeds data back to a central dashboard offering a bird’s-eye view of the cyber landscape.

Oct 23, 2019

A draft bill which would have facilitated the extradition to China of Hong Kong residents charged with crimes has been withdrawn after months of often violent public protests. Secretary for Security John Lee made the announcement but refused to answer questions in the former British colony’s legislature.

Oct 23, 2019

The U.S. Senate has approved the accession of North Macedonia to NATO in a 91-2 vote, putting it a step closer to becoming the alliance’s 30th member. The vote is being seen as a message to the European Union, which had opted not to begin membership talks with the tiny Balkan state earlier this week. 

Oct 23, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has allayed speculation for now about his parliamentary minority forming a formal or informal coalition government. He also has promised a gender-balanced cabinet which will be be sworn in Nov. 20.

Oct 22, 2019

Cameron Ortis, a senior RCMP official charged with violating the Security of Information Act and breach of trust for allegedly disclosing secrets to an unknown recipient and planning to reveal additional classified information to an unspecified foreign entity, has been granted bail. The terms of his release include having to live with his parents, reporting to RCMP weekly, and being prohibited from using any Internet-connected devices.

Oct 22, 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to fast-track his Brexit deal through Parliament to meet an Oct. 31 deadline has been rejected by MPs despite his threats to press for a general election. The government lost the vote on its “programme motion” which have given them only three days to review a 110-page withdrawal agreement bill.

Oct 22, 2019

In a day-after analysis of the Oct. 21 general election, the Angus Reid Institute says that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority win was due mainly to the Liberal Party’s campaign in Ontario.

Oct 22, 2019

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's long-standing Prime Minister, says he cannot form a government in the aftermath of September’s general election. The vote ended in a deadlock with the Blue & White Party whose leader, Benny Gantz, will try to put together a government. Netanyahu says Gantz repeatedly rebuffed his proposals for a coalition between their parties.

Oct 22, 2019

With 338 seats in the House of Commons at stake in the Oct. 21 general election, the incumbent Liberals under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saw their majority of 177 seats in the last Parliament reduced to a minority 157. The still-unofficial results show the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer increasing their representation to 121 seats from 95. The Bloc Quebecois’ representation increased to 32 seats from 10 with new leader Yves-Francois Blanchet; the New Democratic Party under Jagmeet Singh was reduced to 24 from 39 due to a Bloc resurgence; and the Greens under Elizabeth May increased to three seats from two. The fledgling People’s Party of Canada won no seats, including that of leader Maxime Bernier. One independent candidate was elected: former Liberal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. There were nine independent MPs in the last Parliament and five seats were vacant at dissolution.

Oct 21, 2019

Simplifying and consolidating cybersecurity infrastructure is one of the most significant challenges facing the sector, according to Craig Harber, chief technology officer of the Bethesda-based Fidelis Cybersecurity consultancy. The former Cyber Command and National Security Agency technical officer says the need is more urgent than ever because some cybersecurity investments translate directly to poor security.

Oct 21, 2019

The Japanese government is preparing to send its own assets to ensure safe transport of oil through Middle East chokepoints, but not as part of a U.S.-led coalition. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says that while his country, which has maintained relations with Iran, will cooperate with the U.S., has “decided to pursue our own measures separately.”

Oct 19, 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is “undaunted” in his push for Britain’s from the European Union despite his newest setback. MPs voted Oct. 19 for further delay but Johnson says he will introduce a bill next week to implement his “excellent” Brexit plan. Ministers have indicated that another vote is possible October 21.

Oct 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense Department is close to finalizing a new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification framework for assessing suppliers’ protection of sensitive data. After extensive feedback since the first draft was released six weeks ago, Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, says the next iteration should be published in the first week of November, setting the stage for a final version in January after further comment.

Oct 18, 2019

As it contemplates how to manage the digital identities of all users of the U.S. military's IT infrastructure, the Defense Information Systems Agency is reaching out to the private sector. Its proposed Enterprise Identity Service would store usernames and passwords for employees, vendors and other authorized users in a single record, facilitating broad oversight of digital credentials and online.

Oct 18, 2019

The House of Representatives’ homeland security committee has been told that the private sector cannot protect its information technology supply chains without clear information about vendors to avoid. A senior USTelecom executive says the problem is that current laws discourage firms from sharing information about problematic suppliers.

Oct 18, 2019

As the Transportation Security Agency ramps up the use of facial recognition technology at U.S. airports, one Democrat in Congress says he’d like a more measured approach. Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey has suggested to a Senate subcommittee that current TSA data protections are inadequate and a threat to civil liberties.

Oct 18, 2019

Improvements in artificial intelligence technologies means that government procurement agencies need to renew how they approach industry, according to the World Economic Forum. It says in a discussion paper that traditional processes might not be suitable due to new and unique risks to manage and the possibility of unintended consequences.

Oct 18, 2019

The World Economic Forum says that while the benefits of digitization are welcome, there is growing debate on how best to tax and regulate digital businesses to optimize economic and societal outcomes. The frequently borderless nature of the business can mean that one country’s actions can have external effects, influencing trade and investment decisions.

Oct 17, 2019

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says that although law enforcement is an important source of information during investigations of incidents involving small unmanned aerial systems, there is confusion about how police should respond to those incidents or what information they can shared with inspectors. This is according to a Government Accounting Office report which also faults the FAA for not consistently communicating its needs to law enforcement agencies.

Oct 17, 2019

Bucking the US tradition of non-intervention in Canadian elections, former US President Obama stepped into the spotlight to sway voters by saying  "I hope our neighbors to the north support [Justin Trudeau] for another term." This is not Obama's first public endorsement of a foreign leader during elections.

Oct 17, 2019

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker confirms that Britain and the European Union have agreed a new Brexit deal. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control.”

Oct 17, 2019

The U.S. administration’s Office of Science & Technology Policy says it is trying to foster public trust and build government agencies’ confidence in regulating artificial intelligence technologies. The OSTP’s assistant director for artificial intelligence says in a memorandum that the goal is to establish some common principles and some predictability across agencies in terms of how they think about regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to the use of AI.

Oct 17, 2019

The installation of hundreds of cameras with facial recognition capability in Belgrade, part of a local government surveillance program, apparently is causing potential protesters to reconsider their participation in anti-government demonstrations in the Serbian capital. However, despite criticism about eroded personal freedoms and even snooping by China, officials say the system designed by Huawei is helping to reduced crime.

Oct 17, 2019

Having found three U.S. diplomats in what it says is a restricted area near a military testing site, Russia plans a formal note of protest. The diplomats were removed from a train Oct. 12 and briefly detained. Although protected by diplomatic immunity, they are accused of not have the special permits foreigners needed to visit the area.

Oct 17, 2019

U.S. Cyber Command is working with the Department of Energy and industry on a more coherent approach to cyberattacks. A philosophy of “persistent engagement” is predicated on the notion of constant contact with potential enemies in cyberspace and officials have stressed this includes enabling other partners. It also includes using its unique authorities to operate outside U.S. networks as a way to provide warning for domestic agencies about potential threats.

Oct 15, 2019

Ethical hackers apparently have found critical vulnerabilities in Department of Defense systems through a “hack the proxy” program which probed the DoD’s virtual private networks. Of the 312 vulnerabilities identified, nine were considered “high severity.” An Army secure file-sharing site was taken offline last year after a similar exercise disclosed a critical weakness.

Oct 15, 2019

A U.S. Department of Defense official says more needs to be done to evaluate and reinforce the security of contractors facing cyberattacks. “We’re losing,” says Katie Arrington, special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition for cyber within the office of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. She says the attacks cost the U.S. $600 billion annually and with 5G looming, that will be multiplied by the “umpteenth” in just a few years.

Oct 15, 2019

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, promoted as a way to highlight the need for vigilance, but Kiersten Todt, managing director of The Cyber Readiness Institute is challenges the concept. “Cybersecurity shouldn’t be treated as a flavor of the month,” she writes. “We need to focus on it every day, for a simple reason: humans pose the biggest cybersecurity threat of all.... While security technology is much better than it was even just a few years ago, it nonetheless contains one major liability: it’s often only as good as the humans who use it.”

Oct 15, 2019

The U.S. needs to refresh and expand its counterintelligence efforts in the face of a growing wave of cyberattacks, says Christopher Costa, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council.

Oct 11, 2019

A National Iranian Oil Co. oil tanker has been damaged by two missiles and a NIOC spokesman says the weapons were “possibly” from Saudi Arabia because it was only 96km from the Jeddah seaport on the Red Sea. Despite the damage, the vessel apparently is continuing its voyage.

Oct 11, 2019

A Canadian citizen was held for five hours and eventually denied entry without explanation by U.S. authorities at a B.C. border crossing, something immigration lawyers say is becoming more common. A software developer with no criminal record who had frequently crossed without incident, the woman from Vancouver was told she needed a visa in addition to her Canadian passport.

Oct 11, 2019

The North Korean foreign ministry is threaten yet again to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests, accusing the U.S. of having instigated a European condemnation within the UN Security Council of the latest weapons tests. The ministry says talks in Sweden last weekend by Pyongyang and Washington had collapsed because the U.S. offered no new proposals.

Oct 10, 2019

As the debate on gun control rages on in Canada and elsewhere, research as a basis for policy development requires solid data on when and where various laws have been put in place. The Rand Corp. think-tank in Washington has recently updated its searchable database of U.S. state-level laws. Having made its debut in 2018, it covers 17 classes of gun laws and many subcategories dating back to 1979.

Oct 10, 2019

Oct. 17-18 has been set aside by an Ottawa court to hearing a bail application by Cameron Ortis, the former RCMP intelligence director charged with breaching the Security of Information Act and other statutes by allegedly collecting information for possible disclosure. He faces seven counts from early 2015 until his arrest in mid-September.

Oct 10, 2019

Two British militants believed to be part of an ISIS group commonly referred to as “The Beatles” are being detained by U.S. officials after their extraction from a Kurdish detention centre in northeastern Syria. They and others were removed due to concerns that they could escape during the current Turkish invasion of the region. El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey were part of an ISIS group that had held more than 20 western hostages in 2014-15, including seven American, British and Japanese journalists and aid workers as well as Syrian prisoners who were beheaded on camera.

Oct 10, 2019

Henry Kyle Frese, a Defense Intelligence Agency official in Virginia, has been charged ith leaking classified information to two journalists. Arrested by the FBI Oct. 9 when he arrived for work, the 30-year-old is alleged to have accessed at least five classified reports and provided information about another country’s weaponry to one of the journalists with whom he had a relationship.

Oct 10, 2019

Companies such as Raytheon, best known as a defence contractor, are testing new technology that enables stadium operators to spot recreational drones and to track their operators. Raytheon says trials at U.S. venues has resulted in four arrests due to concerns about the potential lethal consequences of a drone failing or being disabled over a crowded venue.

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