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Hackers target federal government networks an average of 474 million times per day, memo shows

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OTTAWA–Federal government networks blocked an average of 474 million hacking attempts per day over a 12-month period, a “top secret” memo to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan reveals.

The heavily-censored report, obtained by the Star under access to information law, stated federal cyber defences blocked an average of 474 million “malicious cyber activities” daily between July 2016 and July 2017.

Canada's Communications Security Establishment has been been given responsibility for Ottawa’s overall cyber-defence efforts.
Canada’s Communications Security Establishment has been been given responsibility for Ottawa’s overall cyber-defence efforts.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

According to the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s electronic spy and cyber defence agency, those “activities” run the gamut. They include any attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in Canadian cyber defences to gain access to government networks, devices or information.

It’s not clear who’s behind those attacks, at least not from the censored version of the report released publicly, and single hackers or groups could be responsible for multiple malicious “activities.”

But the sheer number of attempts gives a sense of the scale of the task ahead of CSE, which has recently been given responsibility for Ottawa’s overall cyber-defence efforts.

“It’s not surprising to me. It’s in line with what I’ve heard both people from the government and people from public services talk about their systems being under constant threat,” said Stephanie MacLellan, a senior research associate on cybersecurity with the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

“It’s not necessarily successful attacks, it’s not necessarily attempts at bringing down the entire system, this is just continuous probing of the system to look for vulnerabilities. I think it’s pretty standard.”

Governments, in particular, tend to have a large target on their backs for hackers, MacLellan added.

According to CSE, the majority of “malicious cyber activities” observed over the 12-month period were simply “reconnaissance scans” to detect vulnerabilities in Canadian defences. On a given day, according to the agency, they could see as many as 1 billion — with a “b” — such scans.

But the numbers also included more serious cyber attacks.

The agency’s latest figures suggest an average of 25 million attempts to install “malicious software”, like viruses, are made each day, along with more than 90,000 attempts to access the Canadian government’s data holdings.

An internal government audit found that between 2013 and 2015, Ottawa detected an average of 2,500 state-sponsored “cyber activities” against government networks each year. In 2013, 6 per cent of those campaigns were successful. By 2015, only 2 per cent were successful — about one incident per week.

MacLellan said that leaves a range of actors — from hackers looking for kicks to criminals looking for government secrets — doing most of the probing.

The Star requested an interview with CSE about the figures on Tuesday, but nobody was available as of Wednesday afternoon.

“These activities are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated,” wrote CSE spokesperson Evan Koronewski in a written statement.

“If a vulnerability or threat is discovered, CSE works with its partners to defend government networks and mitigate potential damage.”

Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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