Canadian government releases details of cybersecurity strategy


The government has unveiled its Cybersecurity Strategy, which has $507.7 million over five years earmarked from Budget 2018.

In its initial announcement, the government said that it would commit $155.2 million over five years—and $44.5 million per year ongoing—to the Communications Security Establishment to create a new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. The Cyber Centre will include 750 employees from existing cybersecurity operations units at Public Safety Canada, Shared Services Canada, and the Communications Security Establishment.

“We are pleased to see that the National Cyber Security Strategy focuses not just on institutions but on businesses as well,” said Byron Holland, president and CEO of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. “Small and medium-sized Canadian businesses are the backbone of our economy but are also the most vulnerable. Providing these businesses with cybersecurity strategies and resources is essential to holding back the tide of cyber threats.”

The strategy itself is rooted in three key themes: collaborating with partners to respond to cybercrime, supporting cybersecurity research, innovation, and talent, and working in coordination with provinces to advance cybersecurity.

“It’s disappointing to see lack of commitment to build Canada’s cyber sector.”

– Benjamin Bergen, executive director of the Council of Canadian Innovators

The government said that small and medium-sized businesses can develop their cybersecurity capabilities with guidance and tools through the Centre. It’s launching a voluntary cyber certification program, which will outline best practices to help businesses understand and respond to cyber threats. The goal is to help SMBs overcome the challenge of accessing networks and systems as their larger counterparts, and the government said in its strategy that it would explore initiatives to drive domestic demand for cybersecurity technology.

“The Government of Canada is committed to safeguarding Canadians’ digital privacy, security, and the economy,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “For Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses, cyber threats can have profound economic consequences. That is why we are investing over $25 million over five years for a voluntary assessment and certification program to help small and medium-sized businesses protect themselves against cyber threats. This new certification program will improve cybersecurity among Canadian small and medium-sized businesses, increase consumer confidence, and better position small and medium-sized businesses to compete globally.”

$116 million over five years, and $23.2 million per year ongoing will go towards a new National Cybercrime Coordination Unit in the RCMP, which will support and coordinate cybercrime investigations between police forces across Canada. New investments will boost the RCMP’s capacity to investigate cybercrimes that affect the Canadian government and citizens. The investments will also work to enhance the RCMP’s ability to conduct criminal investigations with domestic and international partners.

In its review of the current cybersecurity landscape, the government acknowledges the challenge of a lack of cybersecurity talent and skills in Canada. It also said that organizations have asked for cybersecurity standards or legislation to clarify requirements and expectations to improve their cybersecurity, and federal leadership in fostering national collaboration, encouraging investment, and facilitating information. The rise of IoT devices are also a growing source of concern, as this technology finds itself in devices ranging from pacemakers to cars.

While the government’s report broadly acknowledges that private sector leaders have “central” role to play in making Canada a cybersecurity leader, the Council of Canadian Innovators— which represents the interests of scale-ups in Canada—felt the government response fell short. The Council called out the lack of capital and access to customers for companies in the cybersecurity field.

CCI added that it hopes that the new Cybersecurity Centre will allow for greater collaboration between industry and government.

“It’s disappointing to see lack of commitment to build Canada’s cyber sector,” said Benjamin Bergen, executive director of the CCI. “Cyber is the fastest growing ICT sector in the world and domestic innovators present an opportunity for our government to grow our economy and deploy world-class technology solutions for protecting Canada’s digital borders.”

See the full strategy here.

Photo via Unsplash.

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

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