Ex-intelligence official: cyber espionage more dangerous than terrorism

Raymond BoisvertBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A former senior member of Canada’s intelligence community has said that the threat of cyber espionage requires more resources that are currently being diverted to counterterrorism. Ray Boisvert, who retired last year from the post of Assistant Director of Intelligence for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), said in an assertive speech last week that cyber espionage is “fundamentally undermining [Canada’s] future prosperity as a nation”. Speaking on Friday in Ottawa, Boisvert compared cyber espionage to the climate-change debate, which has been marked by a series of ignored warnings, due to “some willful blindness on behalf of individuals”. As a result, he said, the need to establish essential security measures to protect worldwide electronic infrastructure is being neglected, while desperately needed resources are being diverted to counterterrorism. He explained the lack of action on three levels: first, the resistance emanating from technologically challenged decision-makers in the government and private sector, who simply do not understand the technical complexities of digital telecommunications security. Second, it is rooted in the government’s reluctance to invest the funds required to shield the nation’s communications infrastructure from espionage attacks. Finally, he placed the blame on the fragmentation and shortsightedness of the private sector, which owns and operates nearly 90 percent of Canada’s critical communications infrastructure and yet is too consumed by competition to sit around the same table on matters of security. In giving examples of the seriousness of the threat of cyber espionage, Boisvert cited the attacks last year on the computer systems of Canada’s Treasury Board and Finance Department, which compromised trade secrets of several national industries. He also mentioned the attacks on Nortel Networks Inc., which he said lasted for over a decade and may have contributed to the company’s 2009 demise. Read more of this post

Why did Canada suddenly suspend all diplomatic ties with Iran?

John BairdBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On Friday September 7, 2012, John Baird, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that Canada was suspending all diplomatic relations with Iran and was expelling Iranian diplomats from the country, effective immediately. Additionally, said Baird, Ottawa would officially list Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Canadian Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. By the time Baird made his announcement, all Canadian diplomats serving in Iran were on their way home. Iranian diplomats in Canada were given five days to leave the country. Relations between the two countries have been rocky since at least 2003, when Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi was killed under detention in Tehran, and Iran has not had a full ambassador in Canada for nearly five years. Still, the news surprised even former government insiders in Canada. Ray Boisvert, until recently Assistant Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, described Ottawa’s move as “unprecedented”. What was it that caused the final rupture in Canadian-Iranian relations? Why expel the Iranian diplomats now? Leading Middle Eastern experts in Canada cannot seem put their finger on a specific reason. Iran observer James Devine, of Canada’s Mount Allison University, told CBS that Ottawa’s move was “not tied to a specific event”. The Canadian former Ambassador to Tehran, John Mundy, said he believed the break in relations was not tied to a direct threat against Canadian interests. But CBS said many Iranian-Canadians believe the drastic move by the Canadian government should be seen as “an immediate sign” of a looming military attack on Iran by Western powers or Israel. In a recent article on the subject, Canadian political analyst Brian Stewart argued that Ottawa’s “overnight liquidation” of its diplomatic relations with Tehran must be rooted in “new intelligence” showing that Iran “absolutely poses a security threat in Canada”.   Read more of this post

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