Ex-CSIS official says ‘insider threats’ pose significant risk to Canada

As concerns increase surrounding national security, one of Canada's former top spies says the biggest threats could come from within.

Ex-CSIS official says ‘insider threats’ pose significant risk to Canada
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After a recent string of high-profile incidents involving classified information allegedly being leaked for nefarious purposes, a former spy is sounding the alarm on “insider threats.”

As reported by Global News, former CSIS executive manager Dan Stanton recently proclaimed that “An insider threat, whether it’s a leaker or a spy — a spy from the inside — is unquestionably the most serious threat to national security.”

“These are individuals that progress from low-risk to potential to do some leakage to becoming a high-risk where they actually act on these impulses and these plans. And it’s a very serious threat,” he added.

In November of 2023, the RCMP’s former director general of intelligence Cameron Ortiz was found guilty of sending highly classified information to suspected criminals. He was tried and found guilty under the Security of Information Act, reserved for the most serious cases involving alleged insider threats, espionage, or terrorism.

Just this month, an Alberta RCMP officer was arrested and charged over allegations that he aided a foreign actor by accessing top-secret police records.

According to Global News, "Const. Eli Ndatuje of the Alberta RCMP has been charged with breach of trust, unauthorized use of a computer and breach of trust with respect to safeguarded information."

The CBC also reported that within the last week, a now-former employee for Ontario Power Generation was arrested for allegedly leaking "safeguarded" information to a foreign entity or terrorist group.

Former CSIS executive Stanton stressed the importance of watching out for warning signs and "red flags" in employees to prevent such leaks and criminality from occurring.

As reported by Global News, Stanton said, “What makes someone leak? What you do is you look at the predispositions of people. You look at how people cope with stress. You look at these external triggers going on in their life professionally, personally. And so, there’s a continuum really from low, medium to high-risk that they’re then going to leak."

The former spy went on to say, "Most organizations don’t respond to these red flags… They don’t really get engaged. And they only learn about the high-risk insider threats when they’ve already crossed the line and done damage.”

A recent report from The Center for Strategic & International studies says Canada must "urgently" rethink its national security strategy. The report says that if we fail to do so, "Canada places its interests, values, and citizens, and those of its allies and partners, at growing risk."

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