We must guard against cyber attacks

The United States is pressuring Canada to block telecommunications companies from using equipment provided by Chinese company Huawei when building our 5G cellular network for smartphones.

The U.S. logic is along the lines of, “We don’t have actual evidence that China is using Huawei’s products to spy on us, but we suspect that they have in the past and will in the future.”

In court, that wouldn’t be sufficient to be allowed as evidence, much less get a conviction.

But this isn’t a criminal court. This is about national security and corporate spying. And a cyber war is being waged that’s similar to the Cold War.

The treasures we’re fighting over? Rare commodities in a world that’s rapidly being depleted of natural resources, wealth, and political favours and control.

Russia has been suspected of internet-based attacks in a variety of nations and has become increasingly bold using this strategy.

After taking the Ukrainian power grid down in December 2015, Russian hackers, from the state-sponsored group known as Dragonfly, seized control of critical computers in the U.S. power grid in the spring of 2016.

Groups working for Chinese intelligence have apparently hacked everything from natural resource companies to the Pentagon.

It’s believed they’ve directed their activities toward either hacking companies that control access to critical natural resources or high-technology equipment, civilian or military.

The Chinese government maintains firm control over their companies, government-owned or private, and these companies are required to co-operate with any national intelligence activities.

Huawei and several other Chinese-based suppliers have been caught embedding backdoor access in various digital equipment.

It’s not known whether these security lapses were intentional or leftover access for testing that was forgotten and not removed before releasing them to production.

Either it was intentional, or it was sloppy. It was definitely not secure.

In truth, the U.S. has been doing all of these things, too. Many U.S.-based hardware and software suppliers have National Security Agency-directed backdoors installed. This had been heavily documented by Edward Snowden.

This NSA program, PRISM, has allegedly been used to intercept all manner of communications.

There are serious concerns about how much this is used domestically, without warrants and without judicial oversight.

In 2010, a malicious worm (it sends copies of itself out to infect other machines networked with the infected machine) called the Stuxnet attacked and destroyed a number of centrifuge machines being used by the Iranians in their nuclear weapons program.

The worm was carefully crafted to target these machines and the suspicion is that it was produced by a joint operation of American and Israeli intelligence.

It set the Iranian nuclear weapons program back due to the loss of the centrifuges.

This isn’t about ethics or moral outrage.

Depending upon where you live, you might agree with some of these cybernetic attacks and feel outraged at others.

However, we don’t need to determine who’s right or wrong; this is simply about making sure we’re pragmatic.

China, though a trade partner, is also a competitor that seeks every advantage when dealing with us.

The Chinese have engaged in corporate espionage, stealing technology where they can.

It doesn’t need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Huawei will install backdoors for Chinese intelligence.

This isn’t a criminal court trial. This is national security and suspicion is all that’s needed in the murky world of spies.

If Canada is serious about standing as a sovereign entity, it would make sense to support our tech companies.

Blackberry, a Canadian-based smartphone maker, has traditionally had the best security of any phone maker. Nortel was a major player in network infrastructure before its financial collapse in the early 2000s.

Maybe Canada should take a page out of the playbook of so many other nations and start supporting and encouraging our companies.

Companies like these are our only real way to ensure our security and independence from the prying eyes of foreign intelligence operations.

It’s high time we started putting the interests and security of Canadian citizens, businesses and government first, and stop worrying about offending a foreign power’s sensibilities.

Eamonn Brosnan is a research associate with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A server wears a mask at a restaurant, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Health officials receive thousands of COVID-related complaints

About 800 to 1,000 people call health officials weekly

Shaun Janse van Rensburg, a Red Deer resident, said he is tired of changing clocks twice a year. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
After COVID, Kenney may consider referendum on daylight savings

Albertans may be divided on several issues today, but there’s a consensus… Continue reading

The COVID-19 death toll in Alberta reached 309, according to numbers posted on the province’s website Tuesday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Another 422 COVID cases reported in Alberta and two more deaths

The Alberta government reported 422 COVID-19 cases Tuesday and two more virus… Continue reading

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
COVID-19 death toll verges on 10,000 as second wave continues to surge

Nearly 10,000 Canadians have died due to COVID-19, a mark of the… Continue reading

The Red Deer RCMP has filed another set of charges after an alleged assault at an anti-racism rally on Sept. 20. (File photo by Advocate Staff)
More assault charges filed after Sept. 20 anti-racism rally in Red Deer

Trevor Lyle Roy faces a second set of charges stemming from the event

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

UN urges Libyan rivals to implement cease-fire, pursue peace

UN urges Libyan rivals to implement cease-fire, pursue peace

Tourists walk on the beach as the tail end of Hurricane Zeta makes landfall in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, early Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Zeta is leaving Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on a path that could hit New Orleans Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Tomas Stargardter)
Gulf Coast braces, again, for hurricane as Zeta takes aim

Gulf Coast braces, again, for hurricane as Zeta takes aim

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at HoverTech International, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Allentown, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Biden vows his unity can save country; Trump hits Midwest

Biden vows his unity can save country; Trump hits Midwest

FILE - In this Tuesday, May 7, 2019, file courtroom drawing, defendant Keith Raniere, center, leader of the secretive group NXIVM, is seated between his attorneys Paul DerOhannesian, left, and Marc Agnifilo during the first day of his sex trafficking trial. Raniere, a self-improvement guru whose organization NXIVM attracted millionaires and actresses among its adherents, faces sentencing Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, on convictions that he turned some female followers into sex slaves branded with his initials. (Elizabeth Williams via AP, File)
NXIVM guru gets 120 years in prison in sex-slaves case

NXIVM guru gets 120 years in prison in sex-slaves case

FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2020, file photo, pro-democracy demonstrators march to the German Embassy in central Bangkok, Thailand. Fed up with an archaic educational system and enraged by the military's efforts to keep control over their nation, a student-led campaign has shaken Thailand’s ruling establishment with the most significant campaign for political change in years. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)
Thai student-protesters aim for ambitious political change

Thai student-protesters aim for ambitious political change

Reimagining ‘The Craft’ for a new batch of aspiring witches

Reimagining ‘The Craft’ for a new batch of aspiring witches

Fresh Air Experience owner Jon Digney poses for a photo in his store Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Businesses, cities look to give Canadians outdoor rec options during pandemic winter

Businesses, cities look to give Canadians outdoor rec options during pandemic winter

Most Read