Russia-aligned hackers pose threat to Canada's energy sector

Agency highlights of potential disruption

Russia-aligned hackers pose threat to Canada's energy sector


By Mika Pangilinan

Canada’s oil and natural gas sector is at risk of disruption from Russia-aligned hackers, according to a warning issued by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada's signals intelligence agency.

CSE’s threat assessment stated that heightened tensions between Canada and Russia, due to Canada’s support for Ukraine, make the energy sector a prime target for cyber attacks.

The agency highlighted Russia’s history of deploying destructive cyber attacks against its adversaries during geopolitical crises, noting that there is “an even chance” of a disruptive incident occurring in Canada’s oil and gas sector.

Canada is the fourth-largest oil producer globally. The sector employs approximately 600,000 individuals and accounts for 5% of the gross domestic product, according to CSE.

“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,” the agency said.

CSE’s threat assessment further revealed that pro-Russia hackers have been actively attempting to compromise the networks of critical infrastructure providers and organizations within the oil and gas sector.

The likely intent behind these activities is to “disrupt critical services for psychological impact,” thereby weakening Canadian support for Ukraine, CSE added.

According to a recent report by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC analyzing the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on cybersecurity, there has been a significant increase in “hacktivist” DDoS attacks, data breaches, and website seizures due to the ongoing war.

“Unfortunately, the growing involvement of non-state actors attacking on an ideological basis and the manipulation of information by malicious actors will continue to sow uncertainty across the landscape in actual and perceived security threats,” said Steven Silberstein, CEO of FS-ISAC.

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