Tag Archives: canada

Combating Rising Cybercrimes in Canada

Ever since the pandemic began, the threat of hacking and cyber crimes rose at an alarming rate. Many people and even official sites were hacked which posed a threat regarding the usage of online platforms and the information people provided. It was even a big question mark since Covid-19 made everyone switch to working virtually.

Manitoba worked with Ottawa and temporarily took down their websites in order to boost their protection against cybercrimes and hacking, especially ransomware attacks, which is on the rise in Canada and Canada was in top countries who were the target of cyberattacks.

Cyber Threats and Risks Faced

Sami Khoury, head of the government-run Canadian Centre for Cyber Security said that Canada is among the top countries that has been impacted by cybercrime and the Government needs to advise a sound system for protection against cybercrime faced. The hackers are getting advanced and the state needs to protect themselves accordingly.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made it easy for hackers to advance in their malicious activities, since the entire workload has left the protected and encrypted computer systems of offices to the unprotected systems used at homes. Khoury said that hackers have honed in on system vulnerabilities in the shift to at-home work if this increase and lack of protection against cyberattacks can lead to national and international level threat. 

Not long ago Newfoundland and Labrador’s health-care system faced a major cyber attack of ransomware. Health-care workers were forced to use paper and manual systems for the first time in decades. This attack further put the residents and general public at the risk of identity frauds. The hackers hack data and in return they ask for a hefty amount in order to give the data back.

How do Hackers get a hold of your Data

Federal data shows the average ransom amount paid by the public and private sector soared to $300,000 in 2019 from $25,000 in early 2019 due to work from home shifting. The payment in fall levelled about $175,000. Ransomware hack usually starts from phishing. The victim gets an email which seems like a trusted source and the link(s) in that email that directs someone to the login site of an agency or a government’s site. The hacker gets a hold of the username and password. Such emails may also contain invoice or a receipt which contain viruses.

In such cases, the hackers try to steal as much data as they can and then encrypt the data, locking out the original owner of the data, threatening them for selling the data unless some amount is paid. Then a ransom is demanded which is usually paid in crypto (to protect the anonymity of the hacker).

What is Being done for Protection?

Amid the rising cyber attacks, Khoury’s federal group issued a guidance for the prevention and lookout for ransomware attacks.

Manitoba cyber-security expert Eddie Philips said that the companies and the government are not concerned enough about the threat that cyberattacks pose. He said that companies must have a recovery time objective (RTO). He further said that large firms need disaster recovery plans which include backup databases which workers can use.

Health and Manitoba governments said they had a back-up database and recovery targets which are divided among the departments. They also revamped up their cyber security system that helped secure the system of their workers among the networks.

Alot is being done by the government to combat the rising threat of cybercrimes. Pandemic changed the entire network of how people worked and interacted. Philips said that training is essential to prevent cyberattacks and every company and firm should take measures not only to protect their systems but to also train their employees about possible threats and how to prevent them. Sometimes, hackers just need a little window open through which they can invade and steal essential information. Education and training can help prevent cyberattacks.

New Vaccine Passport in Canada

Canada has announced that they will introduce a vaccine passport starting in September 2021.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said that he is working with provinces in Canada to collect data on vaccines.

Vaccine Passport in Canada

The vaccine passport will include information whether you have received 2 doses of the vaccine, where you have received it, and on what date.

Most likely this vaccine passport will be launched around September / October 2021.

Some Twitter users were not so crazy about the idea of vaccine passport in Canada

Federal government will work with the provinces to collect the data. Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, has discussed the vaccine passport in Canada with Premiers nationwide, and they were all supportive of this initiative. You can also download a Covid19 vaccine app from the federal government’s website.

Feds will need to get all the data from the provinces and integrate it in their federal program. Feds have also indicated that provinces could use this passport as a domestic way to proof of vaccination.

Quebec has announced that they will require vaccine identification to access businesses such as gyms and restaurants. Provinces like Alberta and Ontario were 100% against the idea.

We’ve been very clear from the beginning that we will not facilitate or accept vaccine passports.

I believe they would in principle contravene the Health Information Act and also possibly the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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Jason Kenney

Alberta Premier

Trudeau has said that it is up to provinces to integrate their vaccine passports if they so choose. He said he is happy with Quebec proceeding with an internal vaccine passport, but he said it was up to Alberta to make their own decision. He said that different provinces will be doing different things.

U.S. Lawmakers set envious glances as talented immigrants move North to Canada

Immigrants who made their way to the United States to hone their rare crafts and make a living off of the skills they have to offer now see a brighter light from the North. As Canada makes its immigration policies more warm and welcoming, it sees an influx of skilled labour. 

It makes sense why an immigrant would wander off North. The U.S. has milked its American dream narrative for quite a while, but it’s becoming hard for immigrants to buy that as they struggle with the cold and complex immigration system. Many businesses that can see this talent slipping out of their hands pin the blame on politicians and their partisan policies. 

It was a group of lawmakers who brought attention to this issue when they held a congressional hearing titled “Oh, Canada! How Outdated U.S. Immigration Policies Push Top Talent to Other Countries.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democratic lawmaker from California, also complained that Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton had surpassed her area in terms of tech employment growth.

Cause of Stalemate 

As fingers are pointed in the U.S. Congress, let’s take a step back and see why this problem continues to remain unresolved. 

For a plan to transform into reality, it must pass through both chambers of congress. To do that, a supermajority needs to be gathered. That’s the root of the conflict. On the one hand, Democrats want to shift priorities to offering past migrants citizenship. On the other hand, Republicans are expected by their voter base to clamp down on migration and block up the borders down south. 

Why the Canada way?

There is a critique of both the democratic narrative of offering citizenship and the Canadian methods. Republican Tom McClintock shares some interesting points here. 

He critiques democrats for favouring big corporations with this narrative and argues that it’s really the big corporations who want cheaper skilled labour. As for Canada, he shifts attention to the numbers game. McClintock argues that the U.S. was faring much better than Canada before the pandemic. Specifically, he draws attention to unemployment rates, worker salaries, and economic growth. 

The Witness Vision

At the said hearing, we got more perspective on the matter as witnesses were called to share their perspectives.

From figures showing how numbers of Indian students were surging in Canada while falling in America to statements undermining the U.S. immigration policies in comparison to Canadian policies, there was overall a sense of urgency and alarm.

Canada’s first regulated custodian of crypto assets: The Calgary fintech startup Tetra Trust

As the world becomes increasingly open to the currency of the digital world, there’s good news for crypto enthusiasts in Canada. On July 5th, after over an 18 month-long period, a small financial technology startup based in Calgary got approval to provide custody services of cryptocurrency to its institutional investors. 

The decision by the Alberta government to approve custody services essentially made Tetra Trust the first Canada-based custodian. Tetra trust will now store the digital assets of investors, in a big win for Canadian crypto development. Tetra trust is spearheaded by Eric Richmond, who also happens to be the chief operating officer at Coinsquare (a trading platform set in Toronto).  

With this decision, Tetra closed up a number of financing rounds. While the company chose to keep the exact figures undisclosed, the amount is supported by Mogo Inc., Urbana Corp, and Caldwell growth opportunity firm. 

It’s vital to acknowledge the revolutionary nature of this decision. Government recognition and association with crypto storage is a tricky topic. A lot of this hesitation and skepticism stems from the fact that a large user-base of investors are inexperienced young people. The distrust over the crypto industry deepened in 2018 after the death of Gerald Cotten and the subsequent falling-out of the country’s largest crypto exchange: QuadrigaCX. This resulted in investors losing a net sum of 250 million dollars! So it’s not surprising why the government is reluctant to authorize and approve custody services. 

So what are Tetra’s plans with this approval going forward? According to Mr. Richmond, the startup doesn’t aim to get high-net-worth folks particularly. Instead, the focus for a client base will be shifted to family offices, mutual funds, and stock exchange. The clients seeking to use Tetra’s services will be expected to store 1 million dollars worth of currency at a fee that the startup hasn’t disclosed.

The other potential competition from within Calgary was Olympia financial group Inc. that backed out of its attempts of becoming a qualified custodian citing “internal risk.”

Mr. Richmond is aiming big with Tetra, hoping for the startup to have over a billion dollars in crypto assets under its managerial wing by the end of 2021.

Is ArriveCan accessible to Blind Canadians? CNIB says no

People with disabilities are often overseen by the authorities in power, which showed when the ArriveCan app was launched. This app plays an essential role in cross-country travel and border crossing. The app’s inability to cater to those with different needs sparks a larger conversation about due consideration and fair practices. 

It was Robert Fenton who raised concern when using the Apple voiceover screen reader on his Apple device. Fenton, a board member of the CNIB (short for the organizations’ previous name -Canadian National Institute for the Blind), says that the problem arose when he tried to get access to the app. The problem essentially blockades blind people from setting up their accounts because of the poorly designed verification system. Because the only path to entering the verification code for their email relies on the support of a sighted person, the app is inaccessible to blind people. 

The federal law enforcement agency has since acknowledged the issue and Jacqueline Callin, the spokeswoman of the Canadian Border Services Agency, issued an email apology for the matter as well. The email pointed out the gap between the newly added features in the app and that the team is working to resolve the issue. 

As an alternative, for the time being, authorities direct their differently-abled users towards the online route. Unlike the app, the online portal for ArriveCan overcomes the hurdle, allowing blind people to access their accounts without dependence on sighted individuals. 

This, of course, is not the first incident of its kind. In fact, according to Fenton, the same app had another bug that was only recently fixed. This issue was related to the privacy window that popped up each time the app was opened. This unfairly held blind and partially sighted people from proceeding to the next screen. 

These shortcomings on the part of the government aren’t in line with initiatives like the Accessible Canada Act from 2019, which set to eradicate barriers in departments under the federal jurisdiction. What makes this issue further heated is that it affects the mobility of blind athletes from Canada who seek to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.

Communitech Lures USA Based Tech Workers to Work in Waterloo Canada

Communitech, an organization that supports the entire “Community of Tech” in Waterloo, placed 9 billboards across Silicon Valley to invite US based tech employees to relocate to Canada for IT work.

Communitech spent $100k on the billboards and promises tech talent that comes to Canada from US that they will provide them with health insurance, and will provide an answer within 10 days whether visa is approved.

Communitech’s CEO, Iain Klugman, says that majority of tech workers in US are under H1B visa and that recent announcement that H1B visa will be cancelled put a lot of tech workers on alert and not sure about their future in the US.

Klugman says that presented a great opportunity for Waterloo region to advertise itself to some amazing tech workers in Silicon Valley who prefer work security.

It’s that uncertainty, and doubt, and fear that is creating an opportunity for us to come along and say, ‘You know, if America doesn’t want you– we do!’

At the end of the day, the country that can attract the smartest people, and retain the smartest people in their country is going to win.” said Klugman.

“We’ve had challenges getting people to move here for a lot of reasons but now we can say, ‘You know what? You don’t have to move. You can join a remarkable company right here in Waterloo, Ontario.’

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Iain Klugman, in an interview to Kitchener Today

Communitech CEO

Klugman also says he expects a lot of new foreign talent to come to Waterloo and Canada promptly but he says it is not very easy to attract tech talent to come to Canada even with recent H1B closures.

It will be interesting to see how Canada can compete with salaries that are more than double in the US as well as hundreds of very well funded tech companies in Silicon Valley to choose from.

Covid19 App Is Available for Download, Does Not Work With Older Phones

Delayed by about a month, you can now download the Covid19 app in Canada, in Apple Store as well as Google Play. However if you are planning on using it on older phones, it will probably wont work and you won’t be able to see if you were exposed to the coronavirus.

covid19 app in Canada

Ontario users took to Twitter demanding explanation why they can not download the app that uses Bluetooth technology to exchange data with cell phones in the vicinity to see if you were infected.

Ontario Premier recommends using the app saying that the more people that will use the app, the more effective it will be.

The app will only work on newer Android phones as well as iOS 13.5 or higher on Apple devices.

Opposition parties say that it is disappointing to see that app does not work on older devices as most of the infected come from either lower income areas or older people who use older devices.

Unfortunately, while it has become very clear that a person’s socio-economic status is a key factor in their likelihood of contracting COVID-19, this app is not very accessible to those Ontarians who don’t have access to the latest smartphones or a pricey data package.

Toronto Public Health data demonstrates that lower income and racialized communities are far more likely to contract the virus, and many of the COVID-19 hot spots we’ve seen over the course of the pandemic have been concentrated in communities of new Canadians, communities with crowded housing, and migrant workers.

Yet, if these folks don’t have access to a newer smartphone — an iPhone newer than the iPhone 7, for example — they won’t be able to download it in the first place. The bottom line is that in order to be effective, this app has to be broadly accessible, regardless of income.

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Sara Singh

Deputy NDP Leader

The app was developed by the federal government and Ontario with the help from Shopify and Blackberry. The way it works is pretty simple, it exchanges codes with phones in vicinity and if you stay for longer than 15 minutes with someone who registers as covid19 infected, you will be notified (if you both have the app installed on your phones).

Some users had concern about privacy, but the app does not have your location, your name, your address, your phone contacts or your health information. Both provincial and federal privacy commissioners support the Covid Alert app.

The app has been downloaded more than 1.3 million times as of Monday.