Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lin Jian has denounced as “groundless” assertions in a recent Canadian national cyber threat assessment report that named China, as well as Iran, North Korea and Russia, as its greatest cyber-crime risks, fearing espionage and attacks on critical Canadian infrastructure.
The report by the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE) released Monday acknowledged that since the Covid-19 pandemic, many individual and organisation activities have migrated onto the digital sphere, while cyber-threats are becoming more sophisticated due to the increase of hacking talent and cyber tools’ usage world-wide. The CSE said it was aware of the potential that Canadian proprietary information and intellectual property related to the fight against Covid-19 might be stolen by cyber threat actors. The CSE also noted that there has been ongoing online foreign activity trying to influence elections in multiple states around the world. Even though Canada is considered a low priority target, its close media ties with the US could potentially result in some form of collateral political manipulation.
The cybercrime ecosystem is growing despite a global effort to enact cyber-crime related legislation. This is because cybercriminals take advantage of jurisdictions that have lenient or no cyber-crime laws. The CSE insisted that any future safeguards must include taking the social and technical aspects of internet usage, pledging to advance and invest in cybersecurity while providing arms-length support to Canada’s critical infrastructures. The report also declared that a key component to successfully combat cyber-crime is reciprocal participation with other jurisdictions to prosecute cyber-criminals.
Canada’s relationship with China has recently been strained by the arrest of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou and Canada’s repeated condemnations of China’s treatment of Hong Kong and of ethnic Uighurs in XinJiang.