In the News

Dec 07, 2019

The Communications Security Establishment has confirmed that looking out for threat to the British electoral system as the U.K. heads into a final week of campaigning for the Dec. 12 vote. A CSE spokesman says the agency regularly shares information with allies about anything which could have “a significant impact on protecting our respective countries' safety and security.”

Dec 07, 2019

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says a “very clearly articulated list” of military-style long guns the government plans to ban will be published “as quickly as possible.” He says he doesn’t want “individuals going out and acquiring those weapons before the publishing of that list.”

Dec 07, 2019

A 22-year-old Ontario man, Ikar Mao, has been charged by RCMP with one count of leaving Canada to participate in a terrorist group and one count of actual participation. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison on each charge. An RCMP spokesperson, explaining that the investigation is ongoing, says Mao was accused of involvement in the Islamic State.

Dec 07, 2019

Visitors to the U.S. are still being asked by Customs & Border Protection officers to hand over their mobile phones and notebook computers for inspection despite a U.S. Federal Court ruling in November that such searches were effectively unconstitutional without reasonable grounds. One Canadian lawyer says he continues to tell clients “not to save anything on their devices they would not want an officer to read.”

Dec 07, 2019

Alexandra Hall Hall, lead Brexit envoy in the U.K. embassy in Washington, has abruptly resigned, saying she had become increasingly dismayed by the demands placed on the British civil service to deliver messages on Brexit which were not “fully honest.” Hall Hall, a career dioplomat, said her government’s stance in the run-up to the Dec. 12 general election, had undermined the credibility of its foreign representatives.

Dec 07, 2019

A Chinese-born Princeton University doctoral student who had been doing research in Iran until his arrest three years ago on suspicion of espionage has been released as part of a prisoner exchange with the U.S. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Dec. 7 that Xiyue Wang, who was being assessed at a U.S. Army medical centre, was exchanged for a scientist, Massoud Soleimani, who was arrested on arrival in Chicago late last year.

Dec 07, 2019

President Donald Trump continues to use his personal mobile phone despite repeated warnings from his staff that it could leave him open to foreign surveillance. The disclosure comes as the impeachment process in the House of Representatives revealed that several senior administration officials fail to follow security protocols by not using security communications facilities.

Dec 06, 2019

A shooting Dec. 6 at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola has resulted in four deaths, including the gunman who shot himself. He has been identifed as a Saudi Air Force officer training at the base. At least 11 other victims were taken to hospital. Two days earlier, a U.S. submarine crewmember at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii shot two civilians to death and wounded a third before committing suicide.

Dec 06, 2019

The Bank of Canada says that Governor Stephen Poloz, 64, will not seek a second term when his current seven-year appointment expires in June. The bank’s board of directors confirmed Dec. 6 that it has begun looking for a successor. The Oshawa, Ont. native, whose doctoral thesis was on currency movements, joined the bank from the Export Development Corp., where he had been president and chief executive officer, and before that had spent 14 years with the Bank of Canada where he was head of its research department.

Dec 06, 2019

While the world waits for the outcome of the Dec. 12 British election, Canadians evidently are circumspect about their ally’s future as a trading partner, according to the results of a national poll released Dec. 6 by the Angus Reid Institute. Among things, it found that although there’s still high regard for Britain in general, there has been a significant drop in the number who believe Canada should focus on developing closer trade ties.

Dec 06, 2019

The results of a national U.S. opinion poll on security has disclosed that a significant number of Americans continue to believe that Russia is a U.S. ally. Conducted for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, it shows, among other things, that 28 per cent held that view, up from 19 per cent in a similar 2018 poll. Ironically, however, 71 per cent of the latest survey group see Russia as a threat to the U.S. and 25 per cent call it the greatest threat. Cyber attacks were seen as the top “near term threat” with nearly 90 per cent of those polls expressing concern about attacks on government and nearly as many concerned about their personal computers and accounts.

Dec 06, 2019

Draft legislation designed to deal with an epidemic of automated telephone calling has been approved almost unanimously by the House of Representatives. Among other things, it requires service providers to block robocolls and urges various federal agencies to be more aggressive about potentially criminal calls.

 

Dec 06, 2019

A proposal by two Conservative senators to table a motion next week calling on the federal government to impose sanctions on China for alleged human rights abuses has drawn a sharp response from Cong Peiwu, the new ambassador to Canada. He has promised “very firm countermeasures” against what he described as “dangerous” interference in his country’s domestic affairs.

Dec 06, 2019

Hoping to control the spread of 5G networks that involve Chinese technology, the State Department says it supports a European Union Council report in which risks are highlighted. State also says Europe and its allies must “ensure only trusted vendors participate” because of the threat from networks controlled by authoritarian regimes.

Dec 05, 2019

The Speech from the Throne signals that the new minority Liberal government is prepared to stay the course on the defence, security and foreign policies it committed to in the previous Parliament. Read the full text and some context here.

Dec 05, 2019

Faced with intense criticism from privacy advocates, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has scrapped plans to require all citizens to be subjected to facial recognition on entering and leaving the country. An arm of the Department of Homeland Security, CBP has been testing the technology at 20 ports of entry since September 2018 and the airports involved have made it part of their boarding process.

Dec 05, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection wants to end citizens and green-card holders to opt out of its biometrics program on entry to and exit from the U.S. It has proposed a rules change effective at all land, sea and air points as proposed by Congress.

Dec 04, 2019

A Canberra-based think-tank, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says 43 Chinese universities should be considered “very high” or “high” risk to deal with because of their work on defence projects. The assessment by the ASPI, which is partly funded by the U.S. State Department, comes just weeks after the Australian government published guidelines for universities on how to reduce the threat of foreign entities leveraging academic research. The institute also launched a database that classifies risk posed by research partnerships with some 160 Chinese universities, security institutions and defence industry groups.

Dec 04, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the number of Canadian travellers hit with a long-term ban on entering the U.S. has nearly doubled, to 616 in the latest 12-month period compared with 312 a year earlier. CBP offers no explanation, saying only that there has been no policy change, but one Canadian immigration lawyer suggests that border officials may be taking their cues from President Donald Trump.

 

Dec 04, 2019

Finalizing a Request for Prototype Proposals for testing military uses of 5G at two select U.S bases, the Department of Defense is soliciting input from industry. The notice follows a November announcement that testing at four bases could begin next year. Feedback could guide DoD decision on what level of testing and trials the government would permit.

Dec 04, 2019

A report by NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence highlights the security risks of importing Huawei 5G telecom systems but acknowledges that national governments are unlikely to issue the “blanket bans” sought by the U.S. The report says an appropriate response is for more government supervision of what companies such as Huawei are offering.

Dec 04, 2019

As Montreal prepares for the 30th anniversary Dec. 6 of the École Polytechnique massacre in which 14 women were killed, the city’s mayor, Valérie Plante, is renewing pressure for tighter gun controls. “I want us to stand strong and talk loud about Canada as a safe place,” she said Dec. 3. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed during the recent federal election campaign not only to a ban on semi-automatic rifles but also to enable municipal governments to restrict handguns.

Dec 04, 2019

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not mention President Donald Trump by name during a Dec. 3 cocktail gathering in Buckingham Palace, Trudeau is being called “two-faced” by the U.S. President over some overhead comments. During a chat with his British and Dutch counteparts, French President Emmanuel Macron and Princess Anne, Trudeau had said Trump was late due to his lengthy press conferences. Asked the following morning to comment, Trump said, “well, he’s two-faced” and suggested the PM was reacting to U.S. pressure to spend more on defence. “I can imagine he’s not that happy, but that’s the way it is.”

Dec 03, 2019

With a Dec. 15 deadline looming for more U.S. trade tariffs on China, President Donald Trump has suggested he’s open to waiting until after the 2020 presidential election. “In some ways, I like the idea of waiting,” he told reporters in London where he was attending a NATO summit. “But they want to make a deal now and . . . it’s gotta be right.”

Dec 03, 2019

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee’s report on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump says he not only “publicly and repeatedly” urged foreign interests to investigate political rival Joe Biden but also compromised national. “This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election presents a clear and present danger that the president will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain,” it states.

Dec 03, 2019

The founder of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei has said that it plans to move its U.S. research centre to Canada from the U.S. in response to growing U.S. antipathy to the company on national security grounds. Ren Zhengfei has told The Globe and Mail the company also will manufacture some of its 5G network equipment outside of China. Huawei reportedly spent $510 million on the operations of its U.S. research arm last year before reducing its workforce.

Dec 03, 2019

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says federal banking regulators need to update their procedures for dealing with financial institutions, provide better training and take other measures to ensure compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act. The statute requires banks to verify customers’ identities and report suspicious activities but the GAO has found that bank examiners are unclear about the level of due diligence they should expect from banks.

Dec 03, 2019

European Commission anti-trust regulators have begun a “preliminary investigation” into the data collection practices of Google and Facebook. Key focuses appear to include local search, advertising practices, sign-in services, and web browsers and how data are collected, processed and monetized. Already fined twice for its practices, Google contends that collected data are used to improve services.

Dec 02, 2019

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agencyhas issued a draft operational directive that would require all civilian agencies to receive and resolve vulnerabilities identified by public security researchers who often find themselves in a legal grey area when reporting cyber vulnerabilities to government. The concept essentially is a penalty-free “if you see something, say something” approach.

Nov 30, 2019

The Communications Security Establishment is looking for approximately 150 new full-time staff and 300 students next year, partly due to personnel shifting to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security which protects federal cyber assets and provides advice to industries, businesses and citizens on how to deal with online threats. An average day can bring more than 100 million malicious infiltration attempts.

Nov 29, 2019

The B.C. Supreme Court has been asked by lawyers for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to decline her extradition on grounds that the U.S. is “dressing up” its complaint that her alleged violation of economic sanctions against Iran constituted fraud.

Nov 29, 2019

Former CSIS Director Richard Fadden says recent Conservative and Liberal governments have “failed abominably” on some foreign policy issues, notably China. He told an Ottawa panel Nov. 27 that having sat in on cabinet meetings for years, he concluded that while the governments of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper, tried hard to articulate policy, “they both failed abominably because there was no consensus.”

Nov 29, 2019

The European Space Agency is going ahead with a satellite constellation which will monitor global carbon dioxide emissions. European ministers who oversee national science budgets have approved €14.4-billion over the next five years for the project, which the ESA says also will pave the way for more Moon and Mars missions.

Nov 28, 2019

While it agrees that increased computerization of weapon systems offers many advantages, the U.S. Air Force says it also can make systems more vulnerable to cyberattacks. As a result, it is developing a new training curriculum designed to prepare specific personnel on how to recognize and respond to attacks.

Nov 27, 2019

Development of new tools for tackling the U.S. intelligence community’s most difficult problems is the task facing Catherine Marsh, newly-appointed director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. Working within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Marsh succeeds Stacey Dixon, deputy director since last May of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. 

Nov 27, 2019

A draft bill which directs the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help under-resourced lower levels of government to handle cybersecurity has been passed by the Senate. The proposed State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act is designed to improve intergovernmental coordination through the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.

Nov 27, 2019

The growing use of artificial intelligence throughout the U.S. government eliminates bias, preparing the workforce and defining ethical use, but the Director of National Intelligence’s office says it also poses a challenge to oversight. Accordingly, DNI’s inspector general has begun explorin the creation of an IG community of interest to induce collaboration between various departments and agencies.

Nov 27, 2019

The Chinese telecom giant Huawei has begun libel against against a researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research in France. It says the lawsuit stems from the researcher’s televised comments that Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei is a former member of the People’s Liberation Army and that his company is essentially an arm of the Chinese government.The suit comes as Canada and several other countries try to address concerns that Huawei technology could be used for intelligence gathering.

Nov 27, 2019

Tim Berners-Lee, the English engineer and computer scientists who invented the World Wide Web, wants to prevent it from deteriorating into a “digital dystopia” of misinformation, privacy violations and political manipulation. He has set up a non-profit World Wide Web Foundation and released a global action plan backed by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and more than 150 organizations. Berners-Lee says government, corporate and citizen support is critical to preserving the Web as a beneficial platform.

Nov 27, 2019

Taking up Prime Minister Trudeau’s election campaign promise to ban military-style “assault rifles,” a Montreal group is urging Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to make good on it. PolySeSouvient includes students and graduates of Ecole Polytechnique, where 14 women were shot in 1989. An aide to Blair says the minister appreciates the group’s support for Trudeau’s commitment.

Nov 26, 2019

Internal audits at the Department of Energy show that it continues to botch its cybersecurity practices as control systems in nuclear power stations and other critical infrastructure are left vulnerable to digital attacks.

Nov 26, 2019

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is losing several senior technical and cyber staff which apparently could limit its to execute a coherent digital policy.

Nov 25, 2019

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says some companies doing business with the Department of Defense have opaque ownership structures which could hide fraud and national security risks. Recommending the DOD include contractor ownership details in risk assessments, the GAO says the current policy could mean that foreign interests could gain access to sensitive information through U.S.-based companies.

Nov 25, 2019

The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, of which Canada is a member, says developments in and around the Sea of Azov and the Strait of Hormuz this year have demonstrated how marine security measures and the disturbance of shipping may have immediate and/or long-term effects on the global economy. Moreover, it points out, the fact that most critical infrastructure is privately-owned makes it difficult for governments to prepare for threats.

Nov 25, 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is disturbed by allegations in a Nov. 24 published report that China had offered a million dollars for a Chinese-Australian to run for a seat in the country’s parliament. The prospective 32-year-old candidate, who allegedly declined Beijing’s offer, was found dead of undetermined causes last March.

Nov 24, 2019

The Federal Communications Commission is cutting funding for U.S. telecoms which use 5G technology development by Huawei and ZTE, Chinese companies it considers “a national security threat.” The FCC says it will use its $8.5-billion Universal Service Fund, which underwrites equipment acquisition, to offset the impact of its decision on telecoms already committed to the Chinese products.

Nov 24, 2019

Two respected Canadian academics are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new government to rethink aspects of foreign policy, especially as it applies to Latin America. They contend that there having “some embarrassing choices of allies”, including countries with poor human rights records.

Nov 24, 2019

South Korea has opted to continue an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan just hours before it was scheduled to expire. The future of the General Security of Military Information Agreement had been threatened by a deepening trade and diplomatic dispute. South Korea had announced in August that it would terminate the pact and Japan responded by canceling Japan’s status as a favoured trading partner.

Nov 24, 2019

A former Central Intelligence Agency case officer who pleaded guilty to conspiring to spy on behalf of China has been sentenced to 19 years in prison. Jerry Chun Shing Lee, had worked for the CIA in several locations and had intimate knowledge of its classified information and names of covert CIA officers in China.

Nov 24, 2019

The latest Halifax International Security Forum has been used by the U.S. as a platform to warn Canada that permitting 5G technology developed by China’s Huawei telecom giant could undermine this country’s relations with its partners in the Five Eyes intelligence community. Robert O’Brien, recently appointed as White House national security adviser, told reporters that Huawei 5G would be a “Trojan horse”, a warning reiterated by U.S. lawmakers during the forum itself.

Nov 22, 2019

Draft legislation which would fund measures to secure the U.S. electrical grid have been endorsed by a Senate committee. The Protecting Resources on the Electric Grid with Cybersecurity Technology (PROTECT) Act would underwrite small utilities’ improvements to their protection against cyberattacks as well as provide technical help in detecting, responding to and recovering from attacks.

Nov 22, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declined an invitation from South Korean President Moon Jae-in to attend a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next month. While thanking Seoul for the invitation, North Korea asked for “understanding that we failed to find out the proper reason” for Kim to attend.

Nov 22, 2019

For an organization which has consumed and generate vast amount of data for decades as it oversees and audits the full array of federal activities, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has only recently hired its first Chief Data Scientist. Taka Ariga, who joined last month and also is Director of the Innovation Laboratory, has a mandate to advance the use of analytics and emerging technologies to improve how data are used. He is a former senior manager of forensic data analytics in Ernst & Young’s Washington office.

Nov 22, 2019

Warnings several years ago about gaps in Canada’s protection of ostensibly secure information are said to be gaining new traction as the case against a senior RCMP official moves through the legal process. It is leading to a call for a broad review of how intelligence agencies ensure their own staff do not lose or leak sensitive material.

Nov 21, 2019

The Chinese government’s apparent success in recruiting U.S.-based scientists and researchers to work indirectly for Beijing has prompted the Senate to press the FBI to work with universities and federal research bodies which dole out billions in grant money. A bipartisan subcommittee has found that research results have been co-opted for China’s benefit since the early 2000s.

Nov 21, 2019

With adversaries resorting increasingly to cyberattacks against the U.S., trying to disrupt the economy, undermine the political process and steal trade, Congress has joined ranks with public- and private-sector experts to fight back. It stood up a 16-member Cyberspace Solarium Commission which now is expected to release its findings by year’s end. Wisconsin Republican congressman Mike Gallagher, co-chair of the panel, has indicated the report will address, among other issues, interagency coherence, overlapping jurisdiction and the need to convince “the best and the brightest” to work with the government.

Nov 21, 2019

With identify theft increasingly common on the Internet, Texas-based GIACT Systems, which bills itself as the “industry leader” in fraud prevention, says emerging “synthetic ID fraud” could pose an even more dangerous threat. It says fraudsters are combining fragments of real ID information with false data to create identifies of non-existent “synthetic” persons.

Nov 21, 2019

Hacking campaigns designed to trick computer users into downloading malicious software have been uncovered by the California-based cloud security company, Zscaler Inc. One typical approach hacks unsecured sites, prompting users to update a false FlashPlayer which actually installs a Remote Access Trojan which then sends encrypted user information to the hacker’s site an allows access to the user’s system.

Nov 20, 2019

The University of Maryland and the University of Central Florida have emerged as the top teams during a Department of Energy competition designed to improve its ability to protect critical infrastructure against cyberattacks. A total of 105 college teams participated in the fifth CyberForce Competition held at 10 of the department’s national laboratories Nov. 16.

Nov 20, 2019

The U.S. government’s ability to defend against continuously evolving digital threats evidently is being compromised by excessive bureaucracy, according to a senior Department of Homeland Security official. He understands the bureaucrats’ role but suggests that conflicting guidance and opinions contribute to organizational stagnation, a weakness exploited by adversaries.

Nov 19, 2019

A former U.S. Marine who holds Canadian, British and Irish passports in addition to his U.S. documentation, remains in custody in Russia on espionage charges. A court has rejected Paul Whelan’s appeal of the extension of his detention until late December. Detained 11 months, he says he was set up for political reasons.

Nov 18, 2019

Draft bipartisan legislation which would require law enforcement to have a warrant to use facial recognition technology to track U.S. citizens has been introduced in Congress by Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee. The growing use of facial recognition has raised concerns about individual privacy and civil liberties.

Cellphone snooping curtailed
Nov 18, 2019

The U.S. intelligence community no longer collects mobile phone location or related data under the law used to justify spy agencies’ bulk surveillance programs, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence says. The disclosure comes as Congress considers whether to reauthorize the permissive element of the USA Patriot Act that’s due to expire Dec. 15. The practice actually stopped last year after a Supreme Court ruling limited its application.

Nov 18, 2019

The U.S. Air Force Commercial Satellite Communications Office says commercial satellite companies hoping to sell their services to the Department of Defense will require independent third-party cybersecurity certification. The office plans to have an Information Asset Pre-assessment program in place in early 2020 in an effort to “raise the cultural bar on cybersecurity” in the commercial sector

Nov 18, 2019

Russia and China are generally considered the most significant threats in the cyber domain, but one expert worries that “minor or middle powers” might be a more immediate concern. Brandon Valeriano, chair of Armed Politics at the Marine Corps University and a member of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, was part of a panel at CyberCon 2019.

Nov 18, 2019

Canadian legislation designed to protect whistleblowers actually leaves them vulnerable to retribution on the job, according to Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, a Washington non-profit founded in 1977. Among other things, he considers the current law a globally-ridiculed “fraud” which is which is nothing more than “a tissue paper shield.”

Nov 15, 2019

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, created by Congress in 2000 with a mandate to monitor security implications, says China wants to become the dominant power in space. Accordingly, it has told Congress that the U.S. should consider using its nascent Space Force to ensure continued freedom of navigation and communications.

Nov 15, 2019

Amazon Web Services is formally protesting the U.S. Department of Defense’s award of its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract to Microsoft. AWS Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy says political pressure from President Donald Trump had interfered in the contract proceedings.

Nov 15, 2019

Russia, Norway and Lithuania have swapped convicted spies in a deal which also required a change in Lithuanian law. The handover, which followed weeks of negotiations, involved two Russians, a Norwegian and two Lithuanians.

Nov 13, 2019

Having made significant investments in cybersecurity over the years, corporate management wants to know how effective that has been in addressing risk. It coincides with regulatory bodies’ are challenging the levels of resilience the private sector claims to have attained.

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