VICTORIA, British Columbia - The Canadian government will significantly improve its cyber security capabilities with funding increases to the Department of National Defence’s electronic spy agency and with the creation of a new cyber security center.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau outlined the plans to spend CA$500 million (U.S. $391 million) on cybersecurity initiatives over the next five years in his 2018 federal government budget released Tuesday. After that initial period, the government will set aside CA$108 million a year for continuing cyber security initiatives. For comparison, the United States spends $15 billion a year on cybersecurity.

Morneau noted the government will establish Canada’s first comprehensive cybersecurity plan. “Cyber-attacks are becoming more pervasive, increasingly sophisticated and ever more effective,” the 2018 federal budget document stated. “Successful cyber-attacks have the potential to expose the private information of Canadians, cost Canadian businesses millions of dollars, and potentially put Canada’s critical infrastructure networks at risk.”

Like many nations Canada has faced cyberattacks. Last year an attack forced the Canada Revenue Agency to go offline temporarily as Canadians were trying to file their taxes to that department.

Of the new funding, CA$155 million will go to the Defence department’s Communications Security Establishment so it can create a new Canadian Center for Cyber Security. “By consolidating operational cyber expertise from across the federal government under one roof, the new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security will establish a single, unified Government of Canada source of unique expert advice, guidance, services and support on cyber security operational matters,” Morneau’s budget document noted.

To bolster Canada’s ability to fight cybercrime, the government will spend CA$116 million to create a new National Cybercrime Coordination Unit to be operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The unit will be a coordination hub for cybercrime investigations in Canada and will work with international partners on battling cybercrime, government officials said.

Another CA$236 million will be budgeted to develop and support a new National Cyber Security Strategy. The strategy will focus on securing computer systems, developing threat assessments and keeping critical infrastructure safe. It would also work with the financial and energy sectors on improving their cyber security, according to the Canadian government.

David Pugliese is the Canada correspondent for Defense News.

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