Canadian spy agency CSEC has warned of a cyber-attack on Canadian Internet companies that could affect hundreds of thousands of people.

    The agency issued its annual cyber-threat assessment Tuesday, highlighting “significant threats” to Canadian businesses.

    CSEC also highlighted a growing risk of targeted attacks on the financial and business sectors.

    It said the threat is so large, it’s possible a large number of Canadians could be at risk.

    It called for a coordinated response.

    The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the report.

    “CSEC’s assessment of Canada’s cybersharing capabilities and cyber-espionage capabilities, and our ongoing assessment of the threat to our country, is in the process of being completed,” CSEC said in a statement.

    “The assessment is currently underway and the results of this work will be made public once it is complete.”

    The agency also warned about a threat to Canadian financial services companies, noting “significant vulnerabilities” in their systems.

    Its report said the potential for targeted attacks could hit up to 1.5 million people in Canada.

    The report noted the recent hack of the insurance company Anthem revealed by the group, which exposed data including personal financial information of more than 1.3 million people.

    “While the recent Anthem hack is a serious concern for our financial services sector, it is not the only example of the potential impact of such attacks,” the report said.

    It also noted a large cyber-assault on the energy sector, noting that “in recent months, the threat from the development of malware to attack energy systems and infrastructure has been increasing.”

    The report said it is “critical that Canada continues to strengthen its cybersecurity capabilities.”

    The agencies report said Canada’s “cyber-security capabilities and cybersecurity infrastructure are not in good shape,” and it called for “a comprehensive and integrated response.”

    It urged “a robust, coordinated, and integrated approach” in response to the attacks.

    It’s not clear how many of the 1.2 million Canadians are in the targeted attack area, although CSEC noted that it “has been monitoring a significant number of potential victims in the United States, Canada and Europe.”

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