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Five things Ottawa does to manage security at its foreign missions

March 14, 2016 - 8:54 AM

OTTAWA - Here are five things the Canadian government is doing to protect the safety of diplomats, foreign missions and intelligence:

1. Global Affairs Canada, the renamed foreign affairs department, completed a corporate risk profile of the country's 177 embassies, high commissions and other mission offices in 109 countries in 2014-15. It assessed the risks from terrorism, cyber-attacks and natural disasters. In the coming year, the department is focusing on the three risk areas: personal and physical security, cyber threats and theft of information and emergency response reaction.

2. The department continually does risk management assessments. It has found that 80 per cent of its missions in the Middle East and Africa are "actively managing security as one of their top three risks." The department's risk management activities have been the subject of two major internal programs since 2011.

3. The department is in the midst of several internal initiatives to defend against cyberattacks and on-line theft of intelligence and data. The measures include developing secure forms of mobile communication, enhanced training, physical upgrades of hardware and greater use of tools to prevent cyber theft.

4. The department used new funding to create a new group of specially trained security program managers in 2010. These officers are currently posted to 30 of the highest-threat foreign missions, but the government won't identify these locations. The department is expanding the ability of these officers by working with local security services in host countries.

5. The department has created a standing rapid deployment team to deal with emergencies and natural disasters. It has proved itself in responding to typhoons in the Philippines and the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. The program has an annual budget of $885,000 to cover overtime, equipment and specialized training for its 90 members.

Sources: Report on Plans and Priorities 2016-17 and memo titled "Mission Security" prepared by the Privy Council Office for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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