Canada provides cyber “support” to Ukraine against Russian invasion. Here’s what we know – National

The Canadian government is providing cyber “support” to Ukraine amid what federal officials on Thursday condemned as a “barbaric” and “horrifying” Russian invasion of sovereign democracy.

Details of that support are unclear, though officials say it includes “intelligence sharing, cybersecurity and cyber operations.”

“We have also provided support from a cyber perspective, and we will continue to do so,” Defense Minister Anita Anand said at a press conference where Canadian leaders unveiled new sanctions. harsh” against dozens of Russian officials and state institutions.

“We cannot allow Putin to redraw maps and rewrite history as he pleases.”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly and Anand announced the new sanctions on Thursday, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a massive and violent invasion of Ukraine after weeks of posturing.

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At least 40 people are believed to have died so far and dozens more injured in the invasion, which has seen Russian forces bombard Ukrainian villages and towns since Thursday morning.


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Anand shared details earlier in the week of additional military support Canada will provide to Ukraine, including an artillery battery expected to deploy to neighboring Latvia in about six weeks, as well as an aircraft. patrol and a wish that “all options” remain on the table to support Ukraine.

Canada also sent $7.8 million worth of lethal equipment, as well as an “electronic warfare troop made up of CAF members” to support the NATO battle group stationed in Latvia.

In addition to Russia’s violent and aggressive ground war, Putin also oversaw a cyber warfare campaign targeting key Ukrainian government and military institutions.

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He is part of that retired Lt. Gen. Mike Day, Canada’s former special forces commander, described it as an effort “to show that the Ukrainian government can no longer function”.

“If it works against a digital backdrop, it’s susceptible to cyber interference,” Day said.

He also cautioned against making any assumptions at this stage about Putin’s intentions.

“It is premature for anyone to suggest that he understands what Putin’s goal is – how far he will go. They talk their ass off,” Day said.

“We don’t have enough information.”


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The Canadian military was granted an additional mandate to conduct cyber options as part of the 2017 policy review known as the Strong, Secure, Committed.

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The review, a landmark political document billed as the vision document for an army of the future, included a vow to build a new cyber force that can “act decisively in the face of changing challenges”.

However, many details about this cyberforce remain unclear. The Department of National Defense did not confirm the number of “cyberoperators” currently employed by the military when asked by Global News, citing operational security.

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Daniel Le Bouthillier, spokesman for the Department of National Defence, also said the military cannot say whether Canadian Forces cyber officials are engaged in cyber operations.

“Cyber ​​operations are carried out under the direction of the Government of Canada. Like any other CAF capability, cyber operations are only used to achieve military objectives in support of authorized Canadian government operations,” he said in a statement.

“To protect operational security integrity, DND/CAF does not release details regarding actual or suspected cyber operations.”


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A spokesperson for the Communications Security Establishment, however, confirmed that the signals intelligence agency is engaged in actions such as “cyber operations”.

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“The Government of Canada’s cyber defense team, including CSE, is constantly reviewing measures to ensure the security of our information systems and networks. We have tools in place to monitor, detect and investigate potential threats, and to take active action to address them,” spokesman Evan Koronewski said.

“Russia has significant cyber capabilities and a proven history of using them irresponsibly.”

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Koronewski pointed out that past cyberattacks and cyber efforts attributed to Russia include the SolarWinds hack, attempts to steal information on the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, interference in Georgia’s elections and the NotPetya malware.

“While we cannot speak to specific operations, we can confirm that CSE has been tracking cyber threat activity associated with the current crisis. CSE shares valuable cyber threat intelligence with key partners in Ukraine,” Koronewski said.

“We also continue to work with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in support of Ukraine, including intelligence sharing, cyber security and cyber operations.

Dan Rogers, Assistant Deputy Minister of CSE, said the agency has the capabilities to conduct operations in concert with allies such as the NATO military alliance, the NORAD continental defense alliance with states States, or bilaterally alongside specific allies.

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When asked if cyber operations involving CSE include both offensive and defensive activities, Rogers did not rule out the possibility.

“In this case, I can’t talk about specifics,” he said.

“I can say that CST is ready.”

Day said the question of what to disclose is always a balancing act for officials, when asked if he thinks the public has a right to know what kinds of cyber activities military and government officials intelligence lead.

“I reject the premise that it’s helpful to expose everything the military does,” he said.

“The challenge is always how do you balance operational security to maintain efficiency and the public’s right to know?”

What are Canada’s cyber capabilities?

It is unclear whether Canadians who may be the target of Russian attacks on critical infrastructure will ever have a clear idea of ​​what kind of actions their military and national security officials are taking in cyber warfare or in the cyber operations space.

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Like many military and espionage-related activities, much remains shrouded in secrecy, from total budgets and amounts spent on specific technological capabilities to the number of people working on that particular force.

Alexander Rudolph is a doctoral candidate at Carleton University and a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. His research focuses on Canadian cyber defense and cyber force development, and Rudolph noted that the lack of force information makes it difficult to assess the full extent of their capabilities.

He cited as an example the deployment of a cyber warfare force by Canada in Latvia.

“It’s the fact that we don’t know what they’re doing that raises so many questions,” he said.

NATO and Canada have worked with Ukraine for years to help it build its cyber capabilities, Rudolph said, adding that this support has allowed Ukraine to be “miles ahead” of countries with similar military and economic production.

This comes as all available indications seem to suggest that the Canadian military and the Communications Security Establishment are working to establish a relationship that defines how the U.S. military learns and works with the National Security Agency, it said. he noted.

Going forward, a big part of the challenge for Canada is to make up for lost time in the culture of military cyber capabilities, Rudolph said, pointing to the development of America’s Cyber ​​Command that began in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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One thing, however, seems clear: cyberconflicts are not going away.

“It’s here. It’s going to stay, and it’s going to be part of both open conflict and war as it is in Ukraine, and also part of everyday life,” Rudolph said. ‘We’re not investing properly in how we think about engaging in this space, that’s what I would say, that’s what’s holding Canada back.’

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