Mr. Chair, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak today.
I am pleased to spend the time allotted to me discussing the Communications Security Establishment, also known as CSE, and the important work it does in cyber-defence and cyber-protection, as well as the cyber-work performed by the Canadian Armed Forces.
CSE is one of Canada's critical security and intelligence organizations within the national defence portfolio. It is Canada's national signals intelligence agency and serves the national interest by providing foreign intelligence to inform government decision-making. CSE also has the mandate to provide technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies in performing their lawful duties.
However, I am here today to focus on the second part of CSE's current mandate: cyber-defence and cyber-protection.
CSE has more than 70 years of history providing advice and guidance, including more than a decade of operational experience in defending cyber-systems of importance to the Government of Canada.
We know that good cybersecurity is critical to Canada's competitiveness, economic stability and long-term prosperity. That is why we launched the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, as promised in budget 2018. This new centre will provide Canadian citizens and businesses with a trusted place for cybersecurity advice.
Through the newly established Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, we are provided with sophisticated technical expertise to help identify, prepare for and respond to the most severe cyber-threats and attacks against computer networks and systems and the important information they contain. It also provides advice and guidance so Canadians can better protect themselves.
In the short time since its launch last fall, the cyber centre has improved operational coordination, providing better cyber-protection and more efficient responses in cases of cyber-attacks. This has improved Canada's cybersecurity overall. It has also made strides in increasing public and industry awareness and engagement on all matters of cybersecurity.
Canadians can rest assured that their government is prepared to meet the cybersecurity challenges of today and tomorrow. Reliable, secure cyber-systems are vital to Canadians' daily lives. That is why, in our last two budgets, we have taken action to strengthen Canada's cybersecurity.
In budget 2018, we committed $507.7 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, and $108.8 million per year ongoing to support Canada's first comprehensive national cyber security strategy, which includes establishing the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.
Budget 2019 builds on these investments, proposing $144.9 million over five years, starting in 2019-20, to help better protect Canada's critical cyber-systems. For the cyber centre, this funding will support its advice and guidance to critical infrastructure owners and operators on how to better prevent and address cyber-attacks, no matter where they might originate.
Since October 1, CSE and the cyber centre have published key public reports to inform Canadians about the threats we face, including the first-ever unclassified “National Cyber Threat Assessment 2018” and the “2019 Update on Cyber Threats to Canada's Democratic Process”.
In today's dynamic security environment, CSE's efforts to educate, protect and defend Canada and Canadians against cyber-threats are more critical than ever.
Protecting Canadians includes protecting our democratic processes from threats of foreign interference. This is why the Government of Canada has created a security and intelligence threats to elections task force, in which CSE plays an integral role. This task force also includes the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Global Affairs Canada.
The security and intelligence threats to elections task force works to counter covert, clandestine or criminal activities from influencing or interfering with the electoral process in Canada. It aims to prepare the government to assess and respond to threats to our elections.
However, CSE's work is not limited to the security and intelligence threats to elections task force. It is also working closely with Elections Canada to protect its infrastructure.
CSE, through the cyber centre, has offered cybersecurity advice and guidance to all 16 recognized federal political parties. It has also published companion resource documents for both Canadians and political campaigns on its website.
Pending the passage of Bill C-59, which is currently being studied in the other chamber, CSE would be able to provide more targeted advice, guidance and services to designated critical infrastructure owners upon their request. If passed, Bill C-59 would give CSE the mandate to conduct online operations to disrupt foreign threat attacks against Canadian systems. The same sophisticated cyber capabilities that CSE would employ could also be leveraged by the Canadian Armed Forces in support of military operations.
Cyberspace is becoming ever-more contested, and our adversaries are becoming more sophisticated. At the same time, our reliance on cyber is increasing. National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces recognize the importance of staying ahead of our adversaries in this environment. Cyber considerations must be built into everything the defence team does. Our government is ensuring that the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces have the tools and equipment they need to accomplish their important missions at home and abroad.
That is why “Strong, Secure, Engaged” includes several important initiatives to strengthen Canada's cyber capabilities, notably the new cyber mission assurance program and the creation of a new cyber operator trade within the Canadian Armed Forces.
As the nature of technological threats is evolving, using Canada's cyber talent is essential to face future challenges. We are determined to maintain a modern and agile force capable of responding to the technological challenges of today and tomorrow.
With the cyber mission assurance program, National Defence is considering cyber defence on all new equipment and technologies. That means identifying and addressing cyber-associated risks to military networks and equipment before buying. Cybersecurity is top of mind when the defence team assesses its current capabilities, fleets and infrastructure. It is deliberate and attentive in safeguarding computer networks, platforms and weapons systems, and networked equipment in key infrastructure.
I want to stress that cyber mission assurance takes place at every level, from the largest procurement projects outlined in SSE to the logistics officer overseas procuring goods for deployed personnel, to individual defence team members sitting at their computers. This is a coherent and enduring program that manages cyber-threats to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces is always in control of its actions. All of this helps to ensure that cyber-related disruptions do not interrupt military operations or the important business of security and defence.
As I mentioned, creating the cyber operator trade within the military was another important initiative in the defence policy. That includes new cyber operator roles within the reserve force that support the newly created cyber force, a specialized team of both military and civilian personnel.
This, combined with the changes that Bill C-59 proposes, would allow CSE to support cyber operations in Canadian Armed Forces missions when required and to deploy cybersecurity tools to defend Canada's critical infrastructure upon request.
CSE is proud to play a critical role in protecting Canada and Canadians from cyber-threats. Our top priorities are to protect, defend and educate in order to secure our networks from adversaries. As the reliance of Canada and Canadians on connected technology increases, so will the need for CSE and the Canadian Armed Forces and their cyber mandate.
Those are my remarks. I will use the remainder of my time, if I may, to put some questions to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.