Don’t shoot the messenger
David met Goliath at a recent cyber security conference in Gatineau. If capturing data from Goliath’s BlackBerry and laptop is a fair measure, David won.

“How many of you are taking active measures to secure your client devices?” Brad “RenderMan” Haines, an Edmonton-based independent security researcher in a black T-shirt, asked a room full of corporate executives and government bureaucrats, all tasked with protecting Canadians from cyber crimes.

“Not many of you. I know, because I’ve been having fun at your expense for the last two hours.” He displayed a laptop with pages of data he had scooped from their portable wireless smartphones and computers, but spared them the embarrassment of reading out the details. But, he said, “I’m at a security conference. I’m sorry to say, but you should know better.”

Clearly an inspired choice of speaker on the part of the Conference Board of Canada, the event organizer, Haines detailed just how vulnerable end user devices like laptops and smartphones have become, and how hackers can use them to penetrate the corporate networks they eventually join.

Beyond the details of the attacks he is familiar with, he made the point that governments and corporations have grown dangerously detached from the grassroots of computing, where RenderMan and his friends cheerfully dismantle their best-laid security plans.

“A lot of these problems, they’re fundamental flaws in the protocols themselves,” he said, pointing out that many of them have been reported to vendors by independent security researchers like himself. “This is something that should be encouraged.”

But all too often, he said, researchers who point out flaws are vilified by vendors and even threatened with arrest, for “illegally” tampering with software and hardware and developing new techniques and tools. “Don’t hate the hackers. Don’t hate the guys doing the research. Hate the guys who are actually using it to steal money. You’re shooting the messenger and that’s really counterproductive.”

He asked the audience to consider ways they could get information about cyber security from ordinary citizens without going through multiple layers of bureaucracy. “I’m knee deep in the mud in the trenches. The previous speakers work in office towers downtown and I work out of my basement, so the perspective is probably a little different.” When he is carrying a laptop full of confidential information from security executives, Haines’ perspective should be hard to ignore.

Success by other measures
With capital equipment projects such as the Joint Support Ship, Arctic patrol vessels and fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft stalled or showing little progress, critics of the Canada First Defence Strategy may have good reason to question its efficacy. LGen (Ret’d) George Macdonald, former deputy commander-in-chief of NORAD and a vice chief of the Defence Staff, reminds us that equipment is but one of four measures by which to judge the strategy of June 2008.

In a paper for the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute, the partner with CFN Consultants takes a hard look at progress on all four of the strategy’s pillars: equipment procurement; personnel; readiness; and infrastructure.

While success may not always be easy to define, he concludes progress has been made towards a balanced military capability and stable defence funding over the long-term.

That said, he cautions that while the “the CFDS provides a policy foundation to apply in maintaining current military capabilities and introducing new ones…circumstances and priorities change. Needed is a review mechanism to ensure that CDFS initiatives remain viable, affordable and responsive to future requirements.”

For the complete report, The Canada First Defence Strategy – One Year Later, see

Project to position Canada
Like the global positioning system that guides the directionally-challenged, the Canadian International Council has launched an initiative to provide “positioning, navigation and timing services to Canadian policy makers which will help set an original and pragmatic pathway to a more meaningful role for Canada in the world.”

“The GPS Project: A Global Positioning Strategy for Canada,” aims to generate fresh perspectives on Canada’s global role, both in the lead-up to the 2010 G-8 Summit and for the years beyond.

The project brings together 13 emerging leaders, who will meet with experts from across the country to develop new ideas. The group includes: André Beaulieu, VP, value creation and procurement, Bell Canada; Cathy Beehan, founding CEO, Action Canada; John Hancock, counsellor, trade and finance division, WTO Secretariat; Roland Paris, associate professor, University of Ottawa; Stéphane Roussel, professor, Université du Québec à Montréal; George Roter, co-CEO and co-fonder, Engineers Without Borders Canada; and Yuen Pau Woo, president and CEO, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

The effort will be supported by members from the CIC’s 15 branches, who will contribute briefing papers and seek to engage the Canadian public via the CIC website.

Among the topics the project hopes to address in a report scheduled for June 2010 are: the rise of Asia; reconciling energy demand trends and concerns over carbon emissions; deepening access to the United States; the role of Latin America; implications of a warmer Arctic region; security and defence in Afghanistan; successes and failures of developmental assistance; and Canada’s role in the global economy.

For more information, see

Bet on the BRIC
Looking for a good deal? Think the BRIC. That’s the advice of analysts from Frost & Sullivan, who in a recent report predict that Brazil, Russia, India and China – collectively known as the BRIC – will dramatically increase their defence budgets and procurements as their economies recover from the current recession.

Economists have long been predicting the rise of the BRIC – though Russia’s dependence on resource revenue makes it an unstable member – which could overtake leading economies by 2050. Though the four countries accounted for just 12.6 percent of total global defence expenditure in 2008, force modernization is a high priority for all. “Considerable market potential exists,” Frost & Sullivan predicts.

All four countries have nuclear capability and are active in space research. And while the majority of the defence equipment suppliers to the BRIC are public sector or government companies, more private and international vendors have gradually been signing contracts.

“Modernization and troop upgrades alone will involve mammoth budgets, making these four countries growth hot spots for defence industries,” a Frost & Sullivan analyst says.

On the Move
BGen Daniel Ménard assumed command of Joint Task Force Afghanistan during a ceremony attended by Afghan and coalition force leaders at Kandahar Airfield on November 19. Ménard, who served as the 24th commander of 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, based in Valcartier, takes over from BGen Jonathan Vance…

Ken Lewis, who until recently held the difficult post as Canada’s representative in Kandahar, was named Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates in October. His previous foreign postings include Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Jakarta and Beijing. He succeeds Sara Hradecky…

Bruce Levy was named High Commissioner to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Previous posting have included Manila, Bangkok, Hanoi and Washington, as well as a range of positions in Ottawa, including foreign policy analyst within the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat at the Privy Council Office. He succeeds Angela Bogdan…

David Matas and Michael Van Pelt were appointed to the board of directors of the Montreal-based International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy)…

Craig Oliver, chief Ottawa political correspondent for CTV, was named the Navy’s newest Honorary Captain. No stranger to the naval uniform, Oliver once served in the Naval Reserves…

General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier and George Elliott Clark, Ph.D, were conferred honorary degrees by the Royal Military College of Canada during a convocation ceremony in November…

Ahmed Galal was reappointed for a second term as an international member of the board of governors of the International Development Research Centre.

In the March/April issue, the online article “The Enduring Value of NORAD” was co-authored by General Gene Renuart and George “Rocky” Gaines. General Renuart was not credited with a byline.

In the September/October issue, in the Bookshelf section on page 30, the opening paragraph referred to the “forward” of Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919. The correct spelling should have been “foreword.” Vanguard regrets the error.