Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Two Canadian Spy Opportunities

Canadian students who want a career in electronic spying have until January 25 to apply to the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the electronic surveillance arm of the federal government.

CSEC has started a hiring campaign targeting colleges and universities a few months ahead of the inauguration of its new headquarters in Ottawa (see list of opportunities). The building, with an astronomical price tag of $1.2 billion, is the most expensive government complex in Canadian history, dubbed the spy "Taj Mahal" by several critics. The immense campus is located next to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) headquarters, and the two will be joined by a walkway. The veritable "spy nest" will house 4,000 cryptographers, secret agents and information specialists of all kinds in Gloucester, a suburb of the nation's capital.

The new headquarters of Canada’s electronic surveillance agency had an “extreme vulnerability” which was inadvertently breached by firefighters responding to an emergency call, the Toronto Star reports. The Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE) revealed the vulnerability by sending uncensored documents in response to an access to information request by the Star about the fire.

The sensitive information contained in the documents was highlighted, but not censored, compounding one security breakdown with another.

During the construction of the $800 million CAD (about $660 million USD) building for the CSE, a routine call in response to a small fire lead local firefighters to different entrance than the one they were expected at. Finding no-one there, they cut a padlock to access the building.

The documents also reveal vulnerabilities such as inoperative security cameras and a long-missing visitor pass. At least some of those vulnerabilities have since been addressed, and the agency told the Star that the construction access point used in the incident no longer exists, now that the building is complete and occupied.