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Auditor general's report to scrutinize national security

10/23/2012 06:04 EDT | Updated 12/23/2012 05:12 EST
Canada’s national security will be the focus of two reports due to be released today.

The auditor general will table a report on how well governments are protecting critical infrastructure against cyber threats, and the security intelligence review committee is set to table its annual report on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the country's spy agency.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson will release his audit of Canada's cyber security strategy at 10 a.m. ET. Ferguson has been examining how well federal organizations are working with provinces and the private sector to protect infrastructure and key government information systems against cyber threats.

NDP MP Randall Garrison, the Opposition’s public safety critic, told CBC News that recent moves suggest the government is trying to get out ahead of the reports.

"They've been scrambling to make funding announcements and all kinds of other announcements ahead of this report, so there must be something rather bad in this report, so that's what I'm expecting to see," he said.

Last week, the Conservative government announced $155 million to improve how Canada detects and responds to cyberattacks.

It's been almost two years since the Treasury Board, the Department of Finance and a defence research agency were compromised in a cyberattack that was traced back to servers in China.

CSIS has a role in investigating cyber threats, but in its last annual report, the security intelligence review committee said the spy agency’s mandate prevents it from doing more.

"I think the complexities of cyber [security] may compel us to rethink what the mandate of CSIS is and whether or not they should be doing more direct work in helping mitigate the threat of cyber [attacks]," Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of intelligence for CSIS, told CBC News.

The NDP says the government must make it clear who takes the lead on Canada's cyber security — CSIS, the RCMP or the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).

The CSEC, Canada's national cryptologic agency, provides the government with foreign signals intelligence and helps protect electronic information and communications. The agency also provides technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies.

Ferguson’s report will also include audits of the use of professional service contractors by Public Works and other government departments, the transition of ill and injured military personnel to civilian life, how the Department of National Defence manages its properties and how the Department of Finance analyzes and reports on Canada's long-term fiscal sustainability.

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