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

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read