This document provides an update to the 2017 report released by CSE. Its purpose is to let Canadians know about the cyber threats to our democratic process in 2019.
This report considers cyber threat activity – including foreign cyber interference – that affects the democratic process. Cyber threat activity involves the use of cyber tools (e.g. malware and spearphishing) to compromise the security of an information system by altering the confidentiality, integrity and availability of a system or the information it contains. Foreign cyber interference occurs when threat actors use cyber tools to covertly manipulate online information, in particular via social media, in order to influence voters’ opinions and behaviours.
In producing this document, we relied on reporting from both classified and unclassified sources. CSE’s foreign intelligence mandate provides us with valuable insights into adversary behaviour. Defending the Government of Canada’s information systems also provides CSE with a unique perspective to observe trends in the cyber threat environment.
We discuss a wide range of cyber threats to global and Canadian political and electoral activities, particularly in the context of Canada’s upcoming 2019 federal election. Providing cyber threat mitigation advice is outside the scope of this document.
For readers interested in more detailed information about cyber tools and the evolving cyber threat landscape, we refer you to CSE’s fall 2018 publications, the National Cyber Threat Assessment and An Introduction to the Cyber Threat Environment.
This report addresses Foreign Cyber Interference, which is the intersection of False and Misleading Information Online and Cyber Threat Activity.
This assessment is based on an analytical process that includes evaluating the quality of available information, exploring alternative explanations, mitigating biases, and using probabilistic language. We use the terms “we assess” or “we judge” to convey an analytic assessment. We use qualifiers such as “possibly,” “likely,” and “very likely” to convey probability.
The chart below matches estimative language with approximate percentages. These percentages are not derived via statistical analysis, but are based on logic, available information, prior judgements, and methods that increase the accuracy of estimates.
This threat assessment is based on information available
as of 1 March, 2019.
The estimative language used in this assessment matches to likelihood percentages: Almost No Chance means 0% likelihood; Very Unlikely/Very Improbable means 20% likelihood; Unlikely/Improbable means 40% likelihood; Roughly Equal Chance means 50% likelihood; Likely/Probably means 60% likelihood; Very Likely/Very Probable means 80% likelihood; and Almost Certainly means 100% likelihood.