Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for this invitation to appear today.
My name is Alia Tayyeb. My pronouns are she and her. I'm the deputy chief of signals intelligence for the Communications Security Establishment. CSE is Canada's national cybersecurity and foreign intelligence agency.
I am pleased to be here today with my colleague Michelle Tessier from CSIS.
Today, I will provide you with an update from CSE’s perspective on the threat of foreign interference to our electoral system.
I’ll begin by outlining some of the key trends we have observed. To complement Michelle's remarks, I'll focus on what we see from a cyber perspective.
On Friday we published our “National Cyber Threat Assessment”, more commonly known as the NCTA. The NCTA highlights that online foreign influence activities have become the new normal, with adversaries seeking to influence elections and impact international discourse related to current events.
We assess that misinformation, disinformation and mal-information, or MDM, propagated by state-sponsored cyber-threat actors represents an ongoing, persistent threat to Canadians. Adversary states constantly circulate and amplify MDM that supports their interests. Further, we've seen that state-sponsored cyber-threat activity is impacting Canadians by targeting both individuals and Canada's economy at large. Individuals are targeted, including diaspora populations and activists in Canada. They may also target Canadians' personal information. Another method state-sponsored actors utilize is targeting Canada's economic value. This may be done through intellectual property theft and foreign intelligence operations.
Canada’s active participation in the international community and membership in key organizations such as NATO and the G7 almost certainly make Canadians a target for online foreign influence campaigns.
Between 2015 and 2020, the vast majority of cyber threat activity affecting democratic processes could be attributed to state-sponsored cyber threat actors. Russia, China, and Iran were very likely responsible for most of the foreign state-sponsored cyber threat activity against democratic processes worldwide.
In terms of what we're doing to prevent and defend against these threats, we collect foreign intelligence on the activities of foreign states, including any foreign interference activities directed at Canada's democratic institutions or processes.
We provide cybersecurity and information assurance, including providing advice and defences against malicious state actors who may seek to use cyber as a tool for foreign interference. For example, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, we have observed numerous Russian-backed disinformation campaigns online, including those designed to discredit and spread disinformation about NATO allies and false narratives about Canada's involvement in the conflict. We shared this information on Twitter as part of the Government of Canada's efforts to help inform Canadians.
In addition, we can conduct active and defensive cyber-operations to disrupt hostile activities from foreign states, which could include disrupting foreign interference activities. We also provide technical and operational assistance to CSIS and the RCMP as they seek to identify, prevent and disrupt foreign interference.
CSE and the Cyber Centre that it heads have also worked directly with Elections Canada for several years providing cyber security advice and guidance. This partnership continues today, and we continue to support their efforts to ensure secure elections.
I know that later this week you will be hearing from the security and intelligence threats to elections task force, or SITE for short, so I'll only briefly outline CSE's role in SITE.
In the lead-up to and during the 2021 federal election, CSE, CSIS, Global Affairs Canada and the RCMP worked together closely as part of the SITE task force to monitor for foreign threats and interference with electoral processes in Canada.
Outside of the context of an election, our intelligence work continues and provides insights to partners with respect to foreign interference, and our cyber security work continues to prevent and defend against cyber intrusions that could enable foreign interference.
Members, I can assure—