CSIS director David Vigneault, the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, warns that China is undermining Canada through its efforts to steal valuable technology. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

CSIS director David Vigneault, the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, warns that China is undermining Canada through its efforts to steal valuable technology. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Spy chief says China undermining Canada through cyberespionage efforts

‘We all must strengthen our defences,’ warns head of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)

The head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warns that China is undermining Canada through its efforts to steal valuable technology and silence critics of Beijing’s policies.

In a speech Tuesday sponsored by the Centre for International Governance Innovation, CSIS director David Vigneault said all sectors of Canadian society must work together to fend off these threats.

“To be clear, the threat does not come from the Chinese people, but rather from the government of China that is pursuing a strategy for geopolitical advantage on all fronts — economic, technological, political, and military,” Vigneault said.

He bluntly stated that Beijing is “using all events, all elements of state power, to carry out activities that are a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty.”

“We all must strengthen our defences.”

Vigneault says ill-intentioned countries will aim to “take advantage” of Canada as it works to get back on its economic feet once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

RELATED: Audit reveals B.C. health authority isn’t effectively managing cybersecurity threat on medical devices

Among the sectors of Canada’s economy most vulnerable to state-sponsored cyberespionage are biopharmaceuticals and health, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and aerospace, Vigneault said.

These technologies are largely developed within academia in small startups, which are attractive targets because they have modest security protections and are more likely to pursue collaborations that can, and sadly are, exploited by other countries, he said.

“Investigations reveal that this threat has unfortunately caused significant harm to Canadian companies,” Vigneault said.

“Collectively, it jeopardizes Canada’s knowledge-based economy. When our most innovative technology and know-how is lost, it is our country’s future that is being stolen.”

Federal officials openly say that China has the capacity to conduct foreign interference in Canada by applying pressure and influence in a clandestine and deceptive way to pursue its strategic objectives.

They say China and certain other foreign nations routinely threaten and intimidate people around the world through various state entities and non-state proxies.

One notable example of this is the Chinese government’s covert global operation, known as Operation Fox Hunt, which claims to target corruption “but is also believed to have been used to target and quiet dissidents to the regime,” Vigneault said.

“Those threatened often lack the resources to defend themselves and are unaware that they can report these activities to Canadian authorities, including CSIS.”

In addition, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns have seized on the COVID-19 pandemic to sow confusion and distrust, the Canadian government says.

cybersecuritySecurity

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

Just Posted

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Lead donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at the Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Doug Routley is the chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act. (File photo)
Routley selected chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA acknowledges there will be a lot of material to process

Ladysmith’s famous Festival of Lights decorations are still up as of March 1, 2021. (Cole Schisler photo)
PHOTOS: It’s still looking a lot like Christmas in Ladysmith

Festival of Lights volunteers cannot remove the holiday roof top displays due to COVID-19

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Firefighters from three departments battled a house fire south of Nanaimo for more than nine hours Sunday. (Photo courtesy Martin Leduc)
Home in Cedar destroyed by fire

Firefighters from three fire departments battle blaze fanned by strong winds Sunday

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read