Canada’s cybersecurity needs work, despite high ranking: expert

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Gerome Billois, a cybersecurity expert, discusses June's ransomware attack that hit companies and governments in Europe especially hard – Jun 28, 2017

Canada has ranked in the top 10 countries for cybersecurity action and awareness.

According to the Global Cybersecurity Index, created by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Canada ranks ninth in the world.

The ranking was based on countries’ legal, technical and organizational institutions, their educational and research capabilities, and their cooperation in information-sharing networks.

“Cybersecurity is an ecosystem where laws, organizations, skills, cooperation and technical implementation need to be in harmony to be most effective,” the survey said.

“The degree of interconnectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national critical infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised.”

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UNB to partner with Canadian Forces on cybersecurity – Jun 14, 2017

But Satyamoorthy Kabilan, head of the Cybersecurity Centre at the Conference Board of Canada, says we should take this report with a grain of salt.

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The survey only measures whether or not strategies are in place, not if they’re effective.

But we don’t have any national benchmarking or references to measure the levels of cybersecurity, the ITU says.

So while it’s good to know that Canada has national criminal legislation, as well as an Incident Response Centre and other strategies in place, there’s no way to know if they’re working.

“When we don’t actually see what’s going on it’s hard to know whether or not it’s effective.” Kabilan said.

“There’s not really a big push to share [information] because if you’re a private sector company you don’t normally want to share if there’s been a security breach,” he said, explaining that it could hurt a company’s public image or confidence levels.

He also explained that it’s not just the technical side that matters, but also a public education side that needs to be taken into account.

“If we look at Wannacry — it was people clicking on [a link] and allowing the virus in,” he said. WannaCry, the ransomware that crippled the world when it was released in May, sent an email with a link, and wasn’t installed until a user opened the link.
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READ MORE: French experts find way to save WannaCry-infected files without ransom

Kabilan says Canada needs a two-pronged approach to education; one side aimed at teaching young people about identifying threats and evaluating online sources, and another side aimed at teaching the older generation.

For it’s part, the Public Safety ministry says it’s proud to have been recognized, “but the Government recognizes that there is still much work to be done.”

Spokesperson Andrew Gowing said the government will “push forward with our efforts to build partnerships with the private sector, academics and other levels of governments in Canada to protect our national critical infrastructure against cyber incidents.”

Canadians can visit the government’s Get Cyber Safe webpage to learn how they can protect themselves online.

How the rest of the world did

The crucial first step was to adopt a national security strategy, but 50 percent of countries have none, the survey said.

Singapore was the top-ranking country, with the U.S. not far behind in second place.

Among the countries that ranked higher than their economic development was 57th-placed North Korea, which was let down by its “cooperation” score but still ranked three spots ahead of much-richer Spain.

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The smallest rich countries also scored badly – Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino were all well down the second half of the table. The Vatican ranked 186th out of 195 countries in the survey.

But no country did worse than Equatorial Guinea, which scored zero.

  • With files from Reuters 

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