OTTAWA, June 21 (Reuters) – Russia-aligned hackers could seek to disrupt Canada’s powerful oil and natural gas sector, especially since Ottawa is a strong backer of Ukraine, a Canadian spy agency said on Wednesday.
The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) signals intelligence agency said Russia had repeatedly deployed destructive cyber attacks against its adversaries as geopolitical crises escalate.
“We assess there is an even chance of a disruptive incident in the oil and gas sector in Canada caused by Russia-aligned actors, due to their higher tolerance for risk, the increase in their numbers and activity, as well as the number of vulnerable targets in the sector overall,” it said in a threat assessment.
Canada is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer. CSE said the oil and gas sector employed about 600,000 people and accounted for 5% of gross domestic product.
CSE said the most likely target for cyber attacks by pro-Russian hackers was operational technology networks that monitor and control large industrial assets.
“It is difficult to overstate the importance of the oil and gas sector to national security because much of our critical infrastructure depends on oil and gas products,” it said.
CSE said Russian-aligned actors were trying to compromise the networks of Canadian critical infrastructure providers, organizations in the oil and gas sector.
“We assess that the intent of this activity is very likely to disrupt critical services for psychological impact, ultimately to weaken Canadian support for Ukraine,” it said.