This research project is funded by the Cyber Security Cooperation Program (CSCP) of Public Safety Canada.
According to Natural Resources Canada, part of our prosperity lies in building sustainable economic growth and successfully transitioning to a low-carbon future. In 2018, Canada’s energy sector exported more than C$132.2 billion, while our imports were C$50 billion. Canada is the world’s sixth largest energy producer and fifth largest net exporter. It is the eighth largest consumer. In terms of electricity, Canada exports almost 9% of the electricity it produces to the United States. This project focuses on small-scale electricity producers and redistributors. According to the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA), cyber threats must be taken seriously, as electrical networks remain a prime target. In fact, according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, ransomware (ransomware) requests have doubled this year compared to last, while new forms of ransomware are emerging. For example, in July 2019, the city of Johannesburg was left without power due to a ransomware attack experienced by its electricity provider City Power. While ransomware is a growing threat, there are a multitude of forms of attack. As an example, in December 2015, a cyber attack by Russia led to an extended power outage in Ukraine. More recently, in July 2019 and again in Ukraine, employees of a nuclear power plant connected their nuclear power plant computers to the Internet in order to enrich themselves by mining crypto-currencies. This action left that plant vulnerable and would have allowed ultra-confidential information to leak out. The Canadian government needs to continue to improve its cybersecurity posture on the critical electrical infrastructure front, especially with respect to smaller players. These players may be municipalities, cooperatives or companies, often with little capacity to prevent and react to cyber threats. Our project is specifically aimed at them, both from a prevention and a reaction point of view. Our results will easily generalize to other Canadian jurisdictions and will support the resilience of electrical networks in a context of North American economic exchange.
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