Canadian Cabinet Ministers Get Hacking Hotline

An around-the-clock phone line to report suspected cyber-attacks has been created for federal cabinet ministers in Canada.

Newly released documents show that officials at the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCS) set up the 24/7 telephone service last year to help ministers respond swiftly to possible security breaches and hacking incidents. 

The cyber-reporting hotline is operated by the CCS, a division of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), which is the Government of Canada's national cryptologic agency.

According to a confidential memo circulated to ministers, the hotline was set up to act as a "front-line response to address compromise and limit damage." Ministers are advised to call it if they suspect that their ministerial, parliamentary, or personal email has been compromised or if their social media accounts are hacked. 

A copy of the memo was obtained by The Canadian Press via the Access to Information Act. However, due to the sensitivity of the topic, only parts of the circular were revealed to the media. 

The memo was part of a larger briefing package regarding ministerial security that was put together in August 2019. It was prepared by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's then national security and intelligence advisor Greta Bossenmaier for Privy Council clerk Ian Shugart. 

The CSE said the phone service was set up in advance of the October federal election and "is still operational today." 

Shugart was advised in August that all cabinet members had registered for the hotline service, following online security guidance given to them at a CSE briefing in March.

The CSE would not reveal how many incidents had been reported by ministers since the hotline was made operational. 

"Due to operational security reasons, we are unable provide a specific breakdown of the incidents reported through the hotline, but we can confirm that the service was used effectively by ministers, as well as political parties throughout the 2019 general election," the CSE said.

"As per Cyber Centre standard policy, we do not comment on specific meetings with individual political parties, candidates and their staff, nor do we comment on any specific incident."

A round-the-clock phone line to report suspected cyber-attacks has been created for federal cabinet ministers in Canada.

Newly released documents show that officials at the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCS) set up the 24/7 telephone service last year to help ministers respond swiftly to possible security breaches and hacking incidents. 

The cyber-reporting hotline is operated by the CCS, a division of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) which is the Government of Canada's national cryptologic agency.

According to a confidential memo circulated to ministers, the hotline was set up to act as a "front-line response to address compromise and limit damage." Ministers are advised to call it if they suspect that their ministerial, parliamentary or personal email has been compromised or if their social media accounts are hacked. 

A copy of the memo was obtained by The Canadian Press via the Access to Information Act. However, due to the sensitivity of the topic, only parts of the circular were revealed to the media. 

The memo was part of a larger briefing package regarding ministerial security which was put together in August 2019. It was prepared by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's then national security and intelligence advisor Greta Bossenmaier for Privy Council clerk Ian Shugart. 

The CSE said the phone service was set up in advance of the October federal election and "is still operational today." 

Shugart was advised in August that all cabinet members had registered for the hotline service, following online security guidance given to the at a CSE briefing in March.

The CSE would not reveal how many incidents had been reported by ministers since the hotline had been operational. 

"Due to operational security reasons, we are unable provide a specific breakdown of the incidents reported through the hotline, but we can confirm that the service was used effectively by ministers, as well as political parties throughout the 2019 general election," the CSE said.

"As per Cyber Centre standard policy, we do not comment on specific meetings with individual political parties, candidates and their staff, nor do we comment on any specific incident."

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