ARCHIVED - Speech for Minister Toews For the Launch of Canada's Cyber Security Awareness Month and Public Education Initiative to Promote Cyber Security Awareness

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Ottawa, Ontario
October 3, 2011
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Good morning everyone. I'm delighted to be here with you today to kick off Canada's Cyber Security Awareness Month and to launch the Government of Canada's initiative to promote Cyber Security awareness to Canadians.

And thank you to the University of Ottawa for hosting this event.

The launch of this initiative coincides with the start of Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The month of October is recognized by Canada and some of our closest international allies, and draws attention to the need for individuals, families, and the public and private sectors to become aware of cyber risks and to use the tools and resources available to help them stay safe online.

We are all aware just how much Canadians' personal and professional lives have gone digital: we live, work and play in cyberspace.

Computers, networked devices and information networks touch every aspect of our economy, society and daily life.  Nearly all our infrastructure today is heavily dependant on digital technology.

Canadians use the Internet, computers, cell phones and mobile devices every day to talk, email and text with family, friends and colleagues.

We do business online every day, from banking to shopping to accessing government services – and we do it from wherever we happen to be. Digital infrastructure makes all this possible.

Canadians — individuals, industry and government — are embracing the many advantages that cyberspace offers, and our economy and quality of life are better for it.

But our increasing reliance on cyber technologies makes us more vulnerable to those who would attack our digital infrastructure to undermine our national security, economic prosperity and quality of life.

Canada's competitive position in the global economy depends on a stable, reliable and secure digital infrastructure.

Canadians want to know that their private information stays private.

They want to know that their families can socialize and conduct business safely online.

Businesses and governments want to ensure critical infrastructures and services to Canadians and industry are not disrupted and that sensitive commercial information – information that often translates into jobs for Canadians is fully protected. 

This is why cyber security matters to everyone, everyday. Everyone has a stake in strengthening cyber security. All of us have a role to play. 

Unfortunately, cyber space is not only a place where law-abiding Canadians do business, socialize, or access government services.

Increasingly, cyber space is being used and exploited.

It is being used by foreign governments and unscrupulous corporations to steal intellectual property and confidential information to gain military, commercial and economic advantages.

It is being used by organized crime groups who engage in identify theft, money laundering and extortion.

It is being used by terrorists to spread their messages of hate, to coordinate their activities and recruit others.

And Canada and Canadians are not immune.

According to the latest annual report from the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), cyber attacks represent one of the biggest threats facing Canada todayFootnote 1.

All organisations today – whether public, private, or not-for-profit – face the prospect that another nation, competitor or individual could potentially use technology to access confidential information or disrupt essential services.

Threats are growing in number as well as in their level of sophistication. They are also constantly changing and evolving.

Our collective responses therefore must also change and evolve so that we can remain safe online. This is vital for our national security, economic prosperity and quality of life.

The Government of Canada has played a leadership role in responding to emerging cyber threats and in keeping our digital infrastructure safe.

We've created the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre, a national computer emergency response team, to enable coordinated action by the federal government, provinces, territories and critical infrastructure sectors.

We have created Shared Services Canada, which by centralising our infrastructure and expertise will make IT more cost effective, secure and reliable.

We are reaching out more then ever to our key partners - provinces, territories and industry such as the telecommunication, the energy and the banking sectors - to secure vital cyber systems in Canada.

We are also reaching out to our international allies, because as you know, cyber security is global and the threats know no frontier.

We've passed legislation to better prosecute those who steal identities or send spam. 

Today's threats require a strategic, coordinated and long-term approach. This is why the Government of Canada last year announced Canada 's Cyber Security Strategy. 

The Strategy is our recognition that cyber security, once considered to be purely a technical problem, is a broad public policy issue with important social, economic and security implications that touches all Canadians.

The Strategy will do this in several ways.

First, the Strategy will ensure that we further and continually strengthen the security of our own government systems to keep pace with rapidly evolving cyber-security threats. The Strategy will increase the Government's capability to detect, defend, deter and neutralize cyber threats.

Second, partnerships with provinces, territories and the private sector will be strengthened by improving information-sharing as well as our understanding and knowledge about cyber threats and our responses to them.

Third, Canada's Cyber Security Strategy will help to enhance Canadians' awareness of cyber security, including basic security practices and measures they can take to protect themselves online.  It will also promote the awareness and knowledge needed for everyone to play their part in securing cyber space.

The Government of Canada has made progress in each of the three pillars that make up Canada's Cyber Security Strategy.

As part of our efforts to address this third pillar — that of keeping Canadians safe online — the Government of Canada is launching “GetCyberSafe”, a national initiative to help Canadians protect themselves and their families on line.

“Get Cyber Safe ” is designed to help Canadians better understand the cyber threats they face online and the simple, straightforward steps they can take to minimize those risks.

This public awareness initiative, which begins October 3, and runs throughout the month, will help drive Canadians to the website,

The “GetCyberSafe” initiative provides Canadians with information and simple, straight-forward tips to help them become more aware of their role in cyber security, including basic security practices and measures they can take to protect themselves and their families online.

We can all take a few simple steps to help keep our personal information, our finances, our devices and our cherished sense of privacy from being violated by cyber criminals. Such simple steps include:

Canada's Cyber Security Strategy and the “GetCyberSafe” initiative represent the Government's commitment to keeping Canadians safe in cyberspace, and to ensuring Canada's digital networks remain safe, secure, and resilient.

Cyber security matters to everyone, everyday.  We all have a stake in strengthening cyber security.  We all have a role to play.  Do your part. Get Cyber Safe.

Thank you.

  1. 1

    CSIS Public Report 2009-2010 p.p. 19.

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