What we do

National Security - Communications Security Establishment Canada's Contribution

The Government of Canada believes that intelligence is the foundation of our nation's ability to effectively provide for the security of Canada and Canadians. CSEC has long played an important role in the national and international security and intelligence communities and is widely recognized as a professional and effective security and intelligence organization. CSEC contributes significantly to Canada's own security and that of the global community. Read more about the legislative and policy framework, under which we operate, by consulting Acts and Regulations.

Our Mandate

In December 2001 the government passed omnibus bill C-36 into law as the Anti-terrorism Act. The new act amended portions of the National Defence Act and officially recognized CSEC's three-part mandate:

  1. To acquire and use information from the global information infrastructure for the purpose of providing foreign intelligence, in accordance with Government of Canada intelligence priorities
  2. To provide advice, guidance and services to help ensure the protection of electronic information and of information infrastructures of importance to the Government of Canada
  3. To provide technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies in the performance of their lawful duties.

The Anti-Terrorism Act also strengthened CSEC's capacity to engage in the war on terrorism by providing needed authorities to fulfill its mandate.

Our Role

CSEC is Canada's national cryptologic agency. Unique within Canada's security and intelligence community, CSEC employs code-makers and code-breakers to provide the Government of Canada with information technology security (IT Security) and foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) services. CSEC also provides technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies.

CSEC collects foreign communications signals. A communication, for CSEC's purposes, is any information carried on the global information infrastructure, which would include electronic emissions, communications systems, Information Technology systems and networks, and the data and technical information on or related to those systems. E-mail, therefore, is considered to be a "communication".

Our IT Security products and services enable our clients (other federal government departments and agencies) to effectively secure their electronic information systems and networks. CSEC also conducts research and development on behalf of the Government of Canada in fields related to communications security.

Our SIGINT products and services support government decision-making in the fields of national security, national defence and foreign policy. CSEC's SIGINT activities relate exclusively to foreign intelligence and are directed by the Government of Canada's intelligence priorities.

Our technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies is our expert understanding of the global information infrastructure as a resource that is helpful to law enforcement and security intelligence organizations in the performance of their lawful duties. CSEC may, for example, assist with the decryption of communications that these organizations have collected under their own authorities. It may also provide advice and training and, in certain cases, share equipment.

Our research facility the Tutte Institute for Mathematics and Computing (TIMC) is a world-class, high-tech research institute that is the first of its kind in Canada. It conducts classified research in fundamental mathematics and computer science, with a research focus in two distinct areas: Cryptology and Knowledge Discovery/Data Mining.