Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fantino names Russia as cyber threat

Defence Minister Jason Kenney and his sidekick Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino testified to the Standing Committee on National Defence about the Supplementary Estimates (C) on March 11th (transcript not yet available, but you can watch the proceedings here). The hearing covered both the Department of National Defence's vote and that of the Communications Security Establishment. (The CSE entry in the Supplementary Estimates (C) was discussed previously here.)

CSE's new Chief, Greta Bossenmaier, was in attendance at the hearing, but it was Associate Minister Fantino who addressed CSE issues, making a brief statement and later answering a question about CSE's personnel system. Whether Fantino serves as the minister for CSE in all respects may be in doubt, but it is evident that he is now acting as the public face of ministerial accountability for the agency.

Fantino's brief statement starts at about 14 minutes 15 seconds into the hearing. The only especially notable point, from my point of view, is the part (at ca. 15:30) where he cites Russia as a cyber threat, the first time, I believe, that Russia has been identified by name by the government:
Government of Canada networks are attacked millions of times every single day. Some of these provoking acts are done by foreign states, like Russia, which seek to expand their influence at the expense of Canadian interests.
Fantino's statement also confirmed that the two generators for which CSE received $600,000 were no longer needed by the agency as a result of the completion of its new headquarters.

The sole CSE-related question during the hearing concerned the $10,527 transfer from Public Works and Government Services for "reimbursement of funds for the transformation of pay administration" (at ca. 1:18:20). Fantino indicated that the transfer was made because, for security reasons, CSE is opting out of a new government-wide pay system and will instead continue to administer its own pay.

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