Who are you at risk from?

Threats come in many forms. Understanding them and the environment in which they exist can help you safeguard your research.

  1. People from outside your research team or institution could seek to partner with researchers for their own purposes or benefits, including visiting students/faculty, private sector collaborators, foreign government representatives, not-for-profits, activists, and/or commercial competitors. While all partnerships and collaborations involve some level of self-interest, there should be concerns when the motivations of those involved are unclear or deliberately hidden from you.
  2. People from within your research team or institution, who have direct or indirect access to knowledge or proprietary materials, including students, employees, and/or contractors, could be self-motivated or supported or pressured by others to access or steal research or innovation for their own gain, or the gain of others.

In both cases, people want to access valuable information, expertise, and technology. Typically, these people are acting on behalf of an outside interest, such as commercial competitors, foreign governments, or terrorist or organized crime groups.

In certain cases, individuals may be encouraged or compelled by a foreign country to serve their national or economic interests at your expense. This can lead to the misuse of acquired research or innovation, and make pursuing a solution to a confirmed breach of research security difficult for Canadian researchers and authorities.

Foreign countries may also engage in efforts that undermine Canada’s national interests. Some countries view academia and associated research and innovation as an opportunity to advance their own objectives. They seek to increase their own national security, economic prosperity, or strategic objectives at the expense of other nations through espionage or other illicit means. To this end, they may do this through a variety of legal means, or illegal means, including leveraging people or cyber attacks, to acquire the information they seek.

These efforts usually involve deception, coercion, or covert and illegal activities to acquire Canadian knowledge.

To get a better sense of the threat environment in Canada, the “Protect Your Research” briefs – prepared by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – can be explored on the following page.