Friday, February 23, 2024

National Security | Significant risks to economic recovery

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Maria Gill
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(Ottawa) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s internal government briefings warn that economic threats to national security – from espionage to cyber attacks – pose “significant risks” to post-pandemic recovery, Canada’s long-term prosperity and competitiveness.

Posted yesterday at 8:52

Jim Brunskill
Canadian Press

The ratings obtained by the Canadian press through Access to Information Lawnotes that Canada’s ability to recover from COVID-19 and its future economic growth depend on the development of updated legislative and regulatory systems, new tools, new technologies, and new business models.

This harsh assessment appears in documents prepared for Mr Trudeau immediately after the Liberals won re-election last September and has now been announced under the Access to Information Act.

The Trudeau government indicated early last year that it was continuing its efforts to counter economic threats to national security, such as intellectual property theft and damage to power and utilities networks.

The internal memos highlight foreign investment and global trade as major drivers of the Canadian economy and those of the Allies.

The memos say that given Canada’s population, geography, highly skilled workforce, world-leading scientific and academic institutions, and advanced economy, access to international markets and capital is critical to economic growth and recovery.

“Ensuring that Canada has a modern and comprehensive framework to counter efforts by hostile actors to exploit the Canadian economy is essential to ensuring Canada’s long-term economic prosperity and national security, including post-COVID-19 reconstruction,” he wrote.

According to the briefing notes, hostile tactics range from foreign direct investment in sensitive sectors, including critical infrastructure and emerging technologies, to the theft of cutting-edge research.

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Looting can occur through penetration of corporate networks or the transfer of sensitive technologies with military and intelligence applications.

The notes caution that national security concerns extend to the purchase of goods and services by all levels of government. For example, purchasing activities can allow adversaries to gain access to sensitive sites or data, and products or services purchased for critical infrastructure can open the door to espionage and disruption.

Canadian academic and research institutions are targeted by hostile states that depend on their citizens, including students and visiting professors, as well as foreign talent programs and research partnerships for access to knowledge and classified research, add briefing notes.

In recent years, national security agencies have made efforts to educate potentially targeted organizations and provide advice to mitigate these threats.

The government has also issued National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships, and National Security Review Guidelines for Canadian investment law With the aim of increasing transparency about the type of investments that could lead to a security review.

According to the notes, Public Safety Canada is reviewing “gaps in legislation, regulations and governance”.

The federal department is also completing a review of Canada’s cybersecurity strategy.

The committee of representatives and senators that oversees federal security policy recently highlighted vulnerabilities in Canada’s cyber defenses that could leave many agencies vulnerable to Chinese and Russian state-sponsored hackers.

Parliamentarians’ National Security and Intelligence Committee said that while nation states pose the most complex threats, any player with malicious intent and sophisticated capabilities puts government data and the integrity of its infrastructure at risk.

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The prepared remarks to the Prime Minister warn that the cyberthreat landscape is changing rapidly, often faster than governments are able to adapt regulatory and policy frameworks.

As a result, governments face “increasing challenges” to secure their networks and information sources, manage the most pressing threats, and assist victims of cyber incidents.

The notes warn that cybersecurity “can no longer be considered the responsibility of governments alone”.

Canada, in consultation with like-minded partners, will need to continue to emphasize the need for international standards and prevent places where “cybercriminals can operate without consequences.”

“Crime facilitated via the Internet poses the greatest risk to economic recovery because it can affect everyone, from individuals and small and large businesses to municipalities and critical infrastructure systems.”

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