Canada’s “secret hacking tactics” exposed in new report

The Canadian government has been using an array of cyberweapons to gather intelligence, spy on other governments and damage adversary infrastructure, according to a new report by The Intercept in collaboration with CBS News.

According to leaked classified documents, Canada’s surveillance agency Communications Security Establishment (CSE) has used a vast range of tactics to protect the country from cyberattacks, as well as launching attacks of its own. Some of the tactics detailed in the report include building malware capable of bringing down rival organizations, spreading propaganda through social engineering and hacking into computer and phone networks to gain intelligence.

The documents also show that the CSE has been cooperating closely with the NSA, given access to its malware tools as part of the Quantum program. The Intercept noted that Quantum malware can be used for a number of reasons, including stealing data, blocking access to certain websites, disrupting downloads and more.

Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, said the revelation should serve as a “major wakeup call for all Canadians,” especially at a time when parliament is discussing the option of handing intelligence officials additional powers to disrupt national security threats.

“These are awesome powers that should only be granted to the government with enormous trepidation and only with a correspondingly massive investment in equally powerful systems of oversight, review and public accountability,” said Deibert, speaking to CBC News.

The CSE has declined to comment on any specific details from the report, but said in a general statement issued to The Intercept and CBC News: “The leaked materials are dated documents, and some explored possible ideas to better protect the Government of Canada’s information systems while also seeking cost efficiencies. As a result, information in these documents does not necessarily reflect current CSE practices or programs, or the degree to which CSE has visibility into global or Canadian infrastructures.”

Author , ESET

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