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Canadian intelligence concerned about cyber-espionage targeting coronavirus research

Canada’s intelligence agencies refused to identify who the foreign state actors were.

Canada’s intelligence agencies are increasingly concerned about state-sponsored cyber-espionage targeting Canadian research on the coronavirus.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment told the Star that Canada’s research “represents a valuable target” for foreign enemies. 

“With regards to the specific threats, the (Communications Security Establishment’s) Cyber Centre has assessed that the COVID-19 pandemic presents an elevated level of risk to the cyber security of Canadian health organizations involved in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” CSE’s acting director-general of public affairs Christopher Williams told the Star. 

“(The Canadian Security Intelligence Service) sees an increased risk of foreign interference and espionage due to the extraordinary effort of our businesses and research centres … (CSIS) focus is on protecting Canadian intellectual property from these threats — and jobs and economic interests with it.”

On Wednesday, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issues a statement warning that Chinese cyber actors have been trying to steal US health data and intellectual property pertaining to the coronavirus. 

“The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options,” claimed the statement. 

Meanwhile, Canada’s intelligence agencies refused to identify who the foreign state actors were. 

Recently, the US-based cybersecurity firm FireEye revealed that Chinese state actors conducted the broadest cyber-espionage campaign in recent memory targetting a number of industries in Canada and elsewhere.  

Despite increased cyber-espionage activities being perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party and those affiliated with it, Canada has decided to partner up with China to develop a coronavirus vaccine. 

The National Research Council of Canada announced on Tuesday that it was working with a Chinese company to develop a coronavirus vaccine. 

In China, companies are required by law to cooperate with state intelligence operations. 

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