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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Cyberattack concerns caused Canadian officials to react, plan

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 25/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The threat of a major cyberattack on the electrical grid and telecommunications systems in Canada has government officials planning with critical infrastructure operators.
   An internal document said “insiders” could unleash devastating viruses and cripple systems.
   This has officials consulting with operators of electrical grids, transportation hubs and other key infrastructure facilities.
   The briefing notes for Public Safety Canada, obtained by the Canadian Press newswire under the Access to Information Act, said the “insider threat is difficult to detect and can cause real damage.”
   Rogue employees, state-sponsored hackers, sophisticated criminals, “cause-motivated hacktivists” and people out to make mischief online all pose a threat, the document warns.
   No special hacking skills are required to wreak digital havoc, just a portable memory key loaded with a malicious code, it said.
   The document was prepared for Monik Beauregard, a senior assistant deputy minister at Public Safety Canada, who chaired a panel on Friday at an intelligence conference on the global implications of the challenges to cybersecurity.


   Canada and China are working together on the possibility of establishing a free trade agreement.
   In addition to free trade, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meeting in Ottawa with visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, agreed to double bilateral trade by 2025.
   The two leaders also discussed high-level security and Trudeau reaffirmed Canada’s long-standing opposition to capital punishment and China’s human rights record.
   Li publicly defended his country’s use of the death penalty for criminals.
   “It is consistent with our national condition – if we abolish the death penalty, innocent people will lose their lives,” he said.


   News in brief:
   - Native groups in Canada and the United States are vowing to stop the development and transport of Alberta’s oil sands crude across the continent. Tribal leaders from about 100 aboriginal communities in Canada and North and South Dakota signed a treaty to work together to challenge the use of their lands for the proposed expanded production of crude and transportation by pipelines, trains and tankers. They are targeting pipeline projects including TransCanada’s Energy East, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion.
   - The Canadian visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge this weekend includes British Columbia’s remote Great Bear Rainforest. The eight-day tour of the province and the Yukon will highlight history, beauty and social conscience, organizers say. Prince William, Kate and their two children will also be making stops in Victoria, Vancouver, Bella Bella, Kelowna, Haida Gwaii, Whitehorse and Carcross.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 76.02 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.315 Canadian, before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,716 points while the TSX Venture index is 809 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.026 a liter or $3.89 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Sept. 21) 6, 21, 33, 36, 39 and 46; bonus 24. (Sept. 17) 14, 16, 25, 39, 45 and 47; bonus 26. Lotto Max: (Sept. 16) 7, 12, 14, 15, 27, 34 and 44; bonus 6.


   Regional briefs:
   - Direct Energy is reviewing the power bills for many of its 26,700 customers in Fort McMurray and the surrounding area. Some of the energy bills for those in the Alberta area devastated by the May wildfire top $1,000 and include the month when they were forced from their homes. The bills were for several months to catch up and Direct Energy’s Wendy Tynan said there should be no charges for the evacuation period.
   - Ashman Kennedy, 68, of Kitchener, Ontario is sharing his $30 million lottery jackpot with his family and ex-wife. The instant multimillionaire picked up the tax-free prize in the Lotto Max draw and said he plans to travel and buy a house in his home country of Jamaica to spend the winters. Since he wants to make sure his six grandkids get a “great education,” Kennedy said he will let his ex share in his good fortune as there would be “no grandkids without her.”


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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