October 23, 2017 / 5:53 PM / 10 months ago

REUTERS SUMMIT-Canada worried about infrastructure hacks -intelligence official

TORONTO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The Canadian government is “really worried” about cyber attacks that have targeted critical infrastructure and it has helped companies improve defenses without disclosing hacks to the public, a senior intelligence official said on Monday.

The comment by Scott Jones, an assistant deputy minister at Canada’s Communications Security Establishment intelligence agency, follows a warning on Friday from the United States that sophisticated hackers are targeting U.S. infrastructure, including nuclear, energy, aviation, water and manufacturing industries.

“Targeted attacks on Canadian infrastructure is something we are really worried about,” Jones said in an interview at the Reuters Cyber Security Summit in Toronto.

“Do we think something’s going to happen tomorrow? No,” Jones said. “Is it technically possible? Yes, and that’s what we’re worried about.”

Jones said Canada had seen a level of hacking activity that was “comparable” to what had been reported in the United States.

Jones said the government rarely goes public when it uncovers hacking activity because that would let attackers know they had been caught. Instead, it quietly reaches out to targeted firms.

“We try to do it very quietly to help the company become more resilient,” he said. “We’d like to try to give the defenders as much advantage as we can.”

Jones said he is less concerned about the potential for cyber attacks on critical infrastructure to cause harm than he was two years ago because private firms now take the threat of cyber intrusions much more seriously.

For more cyber stories, please go to www.reuters.com/cyberrisk (Reporting by Alastair Sharp and Jim Finkle in Toronto; additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; editing by Grant McCool)

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