According to the head of Canada’s spy service, foreign intelligence agents are everywhere. “State-sponsored espionage against Canada is being conducted at levels equal to, or greater than, those witnessed during the Cold War,” said CSIS Director Richard Fadden in their annual report tabled in Parliament Monday.
Canada’s strong relationship with key allies and advanced telecommunications and mining sectors make it attractive to foreign intelligence. Foreign powers are conducting intelligence operations in Canada by monitoring individuals and groups that are considered a concern to their domestic security and political agendas. They are also trying to influence Canadian policy, perpetuating domestic conflicts and grievances, the director noted.
Fadden’s comments reiterated some of the controversial claims he made a year ago in a CBC interview, which caused outrage among many ethnic groups, especially Chinese Canadians, and led to calls from opposition politicians for firing him. His opening remarks this year identify the main threat to Canada to be terrorism, primarily Islamist violence. Domestic radicalization is a key threat, and one that continues to preoccupy CSIS officers who are concerned about terrorist plotting by unknown individuals or groups.
To Canadian business, this should send the message to all employers to ensure that they perform thorough background checks on new hires, monitor their networks for unusual traffic that might be taking aim at other businesses or organizations, and to monitor their networks for inappropriate data leaving the perimeter, in my opinion. If something is detected, engage an expert investigator, and engage law enforcement as appropriate. Just terminating the individual responsible will only shift the problem to someone else’s network, and may make your business a target.