Call for agent registry continues

Two former Canadian diplomats in China say the lack of a registry of foreign agents in Canada facilitates meddling. David Mulroney, ambassador from 2009 to 2012, told a parliamentary committee that a key concern is foreign agents threatening expatriates’ families and meddling in Canadian politics. Charles Burton, who served twice as a political affairs counsellor in Beijing, added that the registry should be directed at the broad issue of interference, not just one country [node:read-more:link]

Ransomware an “enduring threat”

The Communications Security Establishment confirmed February 2 that it had issued a threat report to Canadian organizations about LockBit, a prolific Russia-linked ransomware group known for targetting hospitals and transit systems. A CSE official said LockBit was responsible for 22 per cent of attributed ransomware incidents in Canada last year and will pose an “enduring threat” going forward. [node:read-more:link]

Tighter rules for university researchers

Confirmation that Canadian university researchers have collaborated with military scientists in China has prompted Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne to promise tighter national-security requirements “shortly.” He also noted, however, that universities are a provincial jurisdiction. [node:read-more:link]

Turkish firm wins NATO contracts

A Turkish engineering firm has won two contracts worth some €31.5 million to modernize intelligence infrastructure in the NATO Communications and Information Agency. STM says it is one of the largest software development projects assigned by the alliance to a Turkish company. [node:read-more:link]

Secrecy classification overdone

U.S. National Security Director Avril Haines says that ongoing investigations into the handling of sensitive documents by former U.S. presidents and vice- presidents highlight problems with “over-classification” protocols. “We must keep certain information secret or we will not be able to do our job in the intelligence community,” she said, suggesting it is overdone. “It does have to meet a national security standard.” [node:read-more:link]

Collaboration with Chinese military

Researchers at 50 Canadian universities have collaborated for nearly two decades with Chinese military scientists at the National University of Defence Technology, according to Strider Technologies, a strategic intelligence company headquartered in Utah. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has warned that China increasingly uses joint academic research to obtain innovative science and technology. NUDT was blacklisted by the U.S. in 2015 because it posed a “significant risk” to national-security or foreign-policy interests. [node:read-more:link]

Security concerns scupper funding

Only 14 of a batch of 48 grant applications to the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council have been approved because national security agencies considered 32 others too risky; two were withdrawn. The reviews stem from government guidelines introduced in July 2021 at a time of heightened concern about the rise of China and other authoritarian regimes. [node:read-more:link]

ISIS repatriations a thorny issue

The legal and safety implications of a Federal Court order to the government to repatriate four alleged Canadian members of ISIS are quickly becoming an issue for debate at home. The Ottawa lawyer who represented the men and other Syrian-held captives says the government can prosecute them if they’re held responsible for terrorist activitities but a former CSIS officer says an effective prosecution needs evidence and witnesses in Syria. Moreover, says Phil Gurski, “the supporters of these men and women have portrayed them as victims that need to be rescued.” [node:read-more:link]

Time out for TikTok?

The head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security says Canadians should be wary of apps that could leave their data in the “wrong hands.” Sami Khoury’s warning comes as the globally popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok faces claims that it is data harvesting. “You have to ask yourself the question: do they need to access that information?” he says. “In some cases, it lands in places that don’t live by the same principles of rule of law (and) respect for human rights.” [node:read-more:link]

Online threats a “violent” trend

Quebec Premier François Legault was the target of sometimes violent threats a year ago after he suggested during the pandemic that unvaccinated persons should be subject to a surtax. The threats are outlined in an Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre report which says the threats and online “doxing” of home addresses as parts of a larger an “increasingly violent” trend. [node:read-more:link]

Mendicino open to cyber improvements

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says he is prepared to work with parliamentarians to find ways to “improve” the federal government’s cybersecurity bill, C-26, after civil society groups and opposition MPs expressed concern about transparency and accountability. Mendicino says the draft legislation introduced seven months ago is designed to improve protection against online threats to national security. [node:read-more:link]

The “zero trust” paradigm

Canada joined its Five Eyes partners for a recent meeting at the headquarters of the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency and Cyber Command to discuss the “zero trust” paradigm which assumes communications networks are already compromised and, as a result, require continuous validation of users and devices. [node:read-more:link]

Cold War spy released

Ana Montes, arrested in the U.S. in 2001 for spying on behalf of Cuba, has been released from prison. Now 65, she was working at the time as a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst and Michelle Van Cleave, then head of counter-intelligence said Montes had “compromised everything - virtually everything - that we knew about Cuba and how we operated.” It turned out that she was motivated by ideology, partly her opposition to U.S. activities in Latin America. [node:read-more:link]

FINTRAC counter-terrorism report

The latest report from the federal government’s Financial Transactions & Reports Analysis Centre confirms ongoing activity related to domestic and international terrorism activities. It says that analysis of 355 activities reported by financial institutions between January 2019 and October 2022 showed that Canadian targets were mostly related to ideological extremists driven by xenophobia and other factors. [node:read-more:link]

No evidence of financial meddling

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national security advisor, Jody Thomas, said today that she has seen no evidence that 11 candidates in the 2019 general election were influenced by alleged Chinese financing. “"The news stories that you have read about interference are just that – news stories,,” she told a parliamentary committee when pressed by Opposition MPs. “We’ve not seen money going to . . . candidates – period.” [node:read-more:link]


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