Cyber Threats To Canada's Democratic Process

Why Target Canada's Democratic Process?

Canada is a G7 country, a NATO member, and an influential member of the international community. As a result, the choices that the Canadian federal government makes about military deployments, trade and investment agreements, diplomatic statements, foreign aid, or immigration are influential and impactful. They can affect the decisions taken by Canada’s allies, and the core interests of other countries, foreign groups, and individuals. Canada’s governments at the provincial/territorial and municipal levels also create policies, direct spending, and make laws that affect tens of millions of Canadians, and in some cases (e.g. regarding resource extraction) affect foreign interests as well.

Adversaries that may target the democratic process for strategic purposes, whether at the federal, provincial/territorial, or municipal level, are attempting to further their core interests, which typically consist of national security, economic prosperity, and ideological goals. Cyber threats can also be used as a show of force to deter other nation-states.

Adversaries may seek to change Canadian election outcomes, policymakers’ choices, governmental relationships with foreign and domestic partners, and Canada’s reputation around the world. They may also try to delegitimize the concept of democracy and other values such as human rights and liberty, which may run contrary to their own ideological views of the world.

Figure 3: Why do nation-states use cyber capabilities to influence democratic processes of foreign countries?

Figure 3 - Description

Immediate Goal: Affect popularity or vote count of candidates, Reduce trustin free and fair democratic process

Mid-term Goal: Push policy in preferred direction, Disrupt international alliances that pose a threat, Weaken leaders that pose a threat

Strategic Goal: Promote core interests (economic, geopolitical, ideological)