Security & Privacy

Canada’s top cybersecurity agency names four countries as greatest strategic threats

The number of cyber threat actors is rising in Canada and they are becoming more sophisticated


The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has revealed that state-sponsored programs in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea pose the greatest strategic threats.

In its latest annual report, the agency revealed that state-sponsored is generally the most sophisticated threat to Canadians.

The state-sponsored threat actors are motivated by economic, ideological and geopolitical goals. Their activities include cyber espionage, intellectual property theft, online influence operations, and disruptive cyber attacks.

The actors are likely attempting to develop cyber capabilities to disrupt critical infrastructure, such as the supply of electricity, to further their goals, according to the report.

“We judge that it is very unlikely, however, that cyber threat actors will intentionally seek to disrupt Canadian critical infrastructure and cause major damage or loss of life in the absence of international hostilities,” the agency notes.

However, the report states that cyber threat actors may still target critical Canadian organizations to collect information, prepare for future activities, or as a form of intimidation.

“State-sponsored actors will almost certainly continue to conduct commercial espionage against Canadian businesses, academia, and governments to steal Canadian intellectual property and proprietary information,” the agency notes.

Although these four countries pose the greatest threat, the report states that many other states are quickly developing their own cyber programs.

Further, the agency outlines that the number of cyber threat actors is rising in Canada, and they are becoming more sophisticated.

Cybercrime also continues to be the cyber threat that is most likely to affect Canadians and Canadian organizations. The report states that illegal online markets for cyber tools have allowed cybercriminals to perform sophisticated campaigns.

“We assess that, almost certainly, over the next two years, Canadians and Canadian organizations will continue to face online fraud and attempts to steal personal, financial, and corporate information,” the report outlines.

The report also outlines that hackers are going to continue to exploit COVID-19 fears, and that they’ll be creating online threats to fool victims into clicking on malicious links and attachments. COVID-19 scams often imitate the branding of legitimate institutions, such as public health agencies.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had warned Canadians about a text scam that was posing as the federal government offering people an emergency financial benefit. The scam campaign had appeared around the time that the government was launching the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.

Since then, there have been numerous reports about scams related to COVID-19, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud centre has repeatedly advised people to ensure they are accessing credible links.