Cyber security month continues in Canada with the release of the
Auditor General's Fall 2012 Report.
Chapter 3 evaluates the federal government's progress on
protecting Canadian critical infrastructure against cyber threats.
As the Auditor General noted, the federal government is uniquely
positioned to protect Canadians because of its access to foreign
intelligence and other information sources that are not available
to other stakeholders.
What is the Auditor General's assessment? The federal
government has been stating its commitment to address cyber
security threats to critical infrastructure since 2001. However,
"[d]espite several past strategies and funding, [...] progress
in achieving these commitments has been slow." It appears that
that the government's focus has been on policy development
(and, perhaps, redevelopment) rather than monitoring threats and
building sectoral partnerships.
For example, the federal government announced the creation of
the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC) in 2005 to
serve as a national readiness and response team for cyber threats.
The CCIRC still does not operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and
there are no plans for it to do so. Instead, it operates Monday to
Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. The government plans to
extend the operational hours, but not provide 24/7 coverage. Cyber
threats or attacks outside of those hours are reported to the
Government Operations Centre, which then pages an employee at
There are concerns that the CCIRC is not included early enough
when incidents do occur. In part, this is because it is not the
initial point of contact for sectoral incidents; however, there
also appears to be interdepartmental confusion. For example, CCIRC
was not notified of an attack on government systems until more than
a week after the intrusion was discovered.
Given that critical infrastructure is owned by the private
sector or managed through provincial, territorial or municipal
governments, partnerships with the federal government on national
cyber security is critical. However, with the exception of the
energy and utilities sector network managed by National Resources
Canada, partnerships with within other sectors are only now
starting to be developed and are not in complete coverage.
Public Safety Canada has, for the most part, agreed with the
Auditor General's recommendations.
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