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TORONTO - Canadians, like citizens of every other nation, are at risk from different forms of cyber attack, which is something that the Government of Canada is taking very seriously. At the SecTor conference here, Colleen Merchant, Director General for National Cyber Security at Public Safety Canada, detailed the steps taken by the government of Canada to protect itself and its citizens.
On the operational side of things, Merchant noted that multiple government agencies have different responsibilities when it comes to cyber security. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) handles law enforcement and related investigations. Public Safety Canada, which is the department in which Merchant works, handles the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Center (CCIRC), which provides threat information and mitigation advice for incident response.
"CCIRC also has a responsibility for coordinating the overall national response to significant cyber events affecting critical systems in Canada," she said.
Public Safety Canada also helps to set policy for cyber security. Merchant said that the role of policy is to help assess challenges and help to formulate overall approaches that work at a national level.
Back in 2010, the Government of Canada released its Cyber Security Strategy manifesto, which has three core pillars including: securing government systems, partnering to secure vital system outside of the federal government, and helping Canadians to be more secure online.
"From 2010 and going up to 2020 we have committed $431.5 million for investment and improvement into cyber security," Merchant said.
In 2016, the Government of Canada conducted a wide ranging cyber review that solicited 2,399 responses from business and industry leaders on how policies should change and evolve. Merchant said that three consistent themes that came out from the 2016 review was the need for more privacy, collaboration and skilled cyber security personnel.
"We are recognizing that cyber-security has become a source for economic prosperity," Merchant said.
The role that the Federal Government of Canada plays is one of leadership in Merchant's view.
"The Government can't solve all problems but we can find ways to force-multiply, by providing all partners with direction and to set out national-level objectives that we can all work toward," she said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurityPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.