Protecting Canada’s Democracy from Cyber Threats

Man sending cyber threats over his computer illustrated by GTA weekly Toronto news

 The Government of Canada’s top priority is protecting the safety and security of Canadians, including from cyber threats. Today, the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions, welcomed the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) Cyber Threats to Canada’s Democratic Process report and thanked them for their work. The first threat assessment of this kind in the world to be shared with the public, it will guide Canada’s efforts to defend our electoral process and political activities from cyber threats.

The assessment examines cyber threat activity against the democratic process in Canada and around the world over the past ten years. The assessment focuses on cyber threats facing elections, political parties, politicians, and the media. It looks at similar threats to the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal levels of government.

The assessment concludes that while there are no indications that nation-states have used cyber capabilities with the goal of influencing the democratic process during an election in Canada, cyber threat activity against the democratic process is increasing around the world and Canada is not immune.

The Minister of Democratic Institutions announced today steps that she has already taken this spring to address cyber threats against our democracy, which include:

  • Engaging the Chief Electoral Officer of Elections Canada and all political parties represented in the House of Commons in discussions about cyber threats against our democratic processes and ways to counter them; and
  • Consulting with opposition critics about steps that can be taken to further address cyber threats against our democratic processes.

The Government of Canada is taking further action to protect our democracy from cyber threats, including:

  • Ensuring the CSE provides a briefing this June on cyber threats at a meeting to which all federally registered political parties were invited;
  • Briefing provincial and territorial chief electoral officers in July to share best practices and explain the report;
  • Facilitating CSE briefings for all Parliamentarians on how they can protect themselves from cyber threats;
  • Ensuring the CSE can work with any political party represented in the House of Commons to share advice and information those parties can use to protect themselves;
  • Building a culture of citizen literacy in Canada to give people the tools, skills and opportunities they need to fully participate in our democratic life.

CSE will continue to protect and defend Elections Canada from possible cyber threats.


Canada’s democracy is the foundation for the rights and freedoms we cherish. We take cyber threats to our democracy very seriously, and today is a critical step in defending our democracy from those who would threaten us. We will continue to protect the integrity and the trust that Canadians hold in their democratic institutions and processes.”
‑ Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions

“The Communications Security Establishment has applied their unique expertise to produce this thorough and insightful assessment of the threats to our democratic institutions. I encourage all Canadians to read and follow CSE’s advice on basic cyber practices as there are many simple steps that can benefit us all.”
‑ Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

Quick Facts

  • The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is leading a review of existing measures to protect Canadians and our critical infrastructure from cyber-threats, in collaboration with the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and the President of the Treasury Board.
  • So far, in 2017, 13% of countries holding national elections have seen their democratic process targeted through cyber activity.
  • During the 2015 federal election, Canada’s democratic process was targeted by low-sophistication cyber threat activity. The details of the most impactful activities have already been reported by several Canadian media organizations. These activities did not impact the outcome of the election.
  • For over 70 years, CSE has played a critical role in protecting Canada’s security and economic prosperity and in safeguarding Canadians’ rights, freedoms, intellectual property and personal privacy. By law, CSE cannot and does not direct its signals intelligence and IT security activities against people in Canada or Canadians anywhere in the world.

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