The U.S. appoints a Cybersecurity Coordinator: Will Canada Follow Suit?
January 6, 2010

January 6, 2010                                                    (version en francais)

Canada's lags in the design of a cybersecurity strategy and adequate support of a new high growth technology cluster

Contact: Emily Boucher, Media Adviser at eboucher@cata.ca

 

Ottawa, ON, Washington, D.C. – January 6, 2010– The U.S holiday announcement of the appointment of a Cybersecurity Coordinator or Czar reporting to the National Security Council with direct access to President Barack Obama did not go un noticed by Canada’s advanced technology community.

 

According to CATAAlliance President, John Reid, “We must mirror this appointment and also strengthen Canada’s cybersecurity policy, including supporting the growth of a cluster of advanced security company flagships and SME’s as an integral part of Canada’s Innovation Nation, and a future source of jobs and income.”

 

Please take one minute to view CATAnet TV video on Cybersecurity and then respond to the Call to Action and Mobilization Requests.

 

The new U.S. appointee, Professor Howard A. Schmidt, is the President of the Information Security Forum (ISF) and has already served as chief security officer at Microsoft and chief information Officer for eBay. Professor Schmidt is the author of Patrolling Cyberspace, Lessons Learned from a Lifetime in Data Security (Larstan Publishing, 2006).

 

Reid, added, “By appointing such a high profile computer security specialist, the White House emphasizes the importance of protecting the U.S. business and military computing systems.”

 

The lack of a coherent Canadian cybersecurity policy is a longstanding concern of public and private sector officials. The Government is well aware of magnitude of the problem though. At the beginning of the year Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan already qualified cybersecurity as “the new frontier”. And he added: "We don't have a day go by when there isn't some effort by someone somewhere in the world to breach government security systems."[1]

 

To combat what he then called a “new arms race”, Minister Van Loan, said the Canadian government was working on "an overall cyber-security strategy" that would encompass both public and private sectors.

 

Successive governments have made various promises of a national cybersecurity strategy and notwithstanding good intention, Canada remains without one.

 

Last month, the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA), which includes utilities, power providers and others in its membership, announced that four cyber-security bills currently in the Congress included inadequate or no requirements for the U.S. to consult and coordinate with Canada before responding to a cyber-attack. Minister Van Loan dismissed the warning by saying: “It really doesn't matter whether or not (the U.S.) is consulting with Canadians or not." According to the minister "the system is either going to survive or go down in a hurry. What matters more is what is done in advance to prevent that from ever happening."[2]

 

One may be dismayed with Minister Van Loan casualness about international consultation but is forced to acknowledge that he is right to remind us that “what matters more is what is done in advance to prevent that from ever happening."

 

Unfortunately, Canada is not ready. Our companies invest less than their U.S. counterparts in cybersecurity. The lack of a national cybersecurity strategy does nothing to change the situation.

 

This is why, last November, CATAAlliance launched two national, multi-sector research initiatives which between them will aim to lay the foundations of a truly Canadian cybersecurity policy. In conjunction with the Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC) and the first responder community, CATA is designing a Technology Roadmap (TRM) for First Responders to assess the needs of the industry and overcome the barriers involved with procurement and technology interoperability. Simultaneously, CATA is holding a broad survey of the Canadian Advanced Security industry which intends to promote this key component of our economy and to reinforce links between providers and users.

 

These two initiatives intend to be a practical contribution to the design of a cybersecurity national strategy. The future of our economy is based on the security measures taken by our companies – especially small and medium companies that do not have a tradition of security planning.

 

Reid concluded, “The Government must show by example and endow the country with a thorough cybersecurity strategy. And our industries must be innovative and create the technologies and services to make us a world leader in the production of security solutions.

 

 

++ Call to Action:

 

MP and Community Mobilization

 

Please send electronically and/or print out and fax the Cybersecurity communiqué and follow up with a phone call to your local MP, media and network of contacts, inclusive of posting on your social media. Please email jreid@cata.ca with Advanced Security/Interoperability in the subject line. We will be sending shortly details of a TeleForum Conference Call to discuss the Cybersecurity Campaign, provide updates and offer a Q&A with industry experts.

 

Business Database for Export and Domestic Marketplaces

All firms/organizations involved in the development of security products or services should contact us to be included in our security survey and database. Please email jgrens@cata.ca with Advanced Security Survey in the subject line. We will be sending shortly details of the survey.

 



[1] Ottawa focused on new cyber-security strategy”, Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen, April 08, 2009.

[2] U.S. plans to secure power grid worry producers”, Ian MacLeod, Ottawa Citizen, November 22, 2009.