The Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS’s) just-released Public Report 2020 shines light on threats to Canada’s security by providing an overview of the organization’s major efforts in the past year and a section on the country’s threat environment. It begins by noting how the COVID-19 pandemic created a situation ripe for exploitation by threat actors, who sought to take advantage of organizations working on COVID-19 research and more individuals working from home. "The fluid and rapidly evolving environment caused by COVID-19 has created a situation ripe for exploitation by threat actors seeking to advance their own interests," said CSIS Director David Vigneault. CSIS notes that it responded to these and other COVID-19-related threats with outreach activities and other efforts, complementing other measures taken by the Canadian government.
Much like the recently-released Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, CSIS’s report also draws readers’ attention to interference and malicious operations by foreign actors, particularly in the cyber realm. CSIS said that the two countries in particular – China and Russia – along with other foreign states, continued to "covertly collect political, economic, and military information in Canada through targeted threat activities" in support of their own ambitions. The report also identified violent extremism as a key security threat to the nation, with Director Vigneault commenting that it and other threats had "accelerated, evolved and in many ways became much more serious for Canadians.” Additionally, it contains a section discussing international terrorism, with a focus on groups like al Qa’ida and the Islamic State (or Daesh). The report acknowledges the setbacks experienced in the last few years by both groups while noting the potential for them to inspire attacks within Canada. Read the full report at CSIS.