In Canada, research is an incredibly valuable asset which contributes to the Canadian society as a whole and also gives back to the world internationally. At the same time, this research is vulnerable to foreign hostile actors and regimes and there is a real risk that such actors will attempt to access, acquire and misuse research to undermine Canadian national security and critical infrastructure. According to CSIS, Canadian researchers are not alone in facing such risks.

Accessibility transcript for CSIS video

In response to these growing risks to national security, federal departments responsible for security released the National Security Guidelines for research partnerships on July 12, 2021. The Safeguarding Your Research portal was also launched to better educate Canadian researchers.

What research areas are most at risk?

According to the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships, vulnerable research areas may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Aerospace
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Biotechnology
  • Energy Generation, Storage & Transmission
  • Neurotechnology and Human-Machine Integration
  • Next Generation Computing and Digital Infrastructure
  • Position, Navigation and Timing
  • Robotics and Autonomous Systems
  • Research related to critical minerals and critical mineral supply chains. For more information, please consult the Government of Canada’s Critical Minerals List
  • Research partnerships focused on critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure refers to processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government. For more information on Canada’s critical infrastructure, see National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure and Action Plan for Critical Infrastructure
  • Research partnerships involving potential access to sensitive personal data that could be leveraged to harm Canadian national security through its exploitation, including, but not limited to:
    • personally identifiable health or genetic (e.g., health conditions or genetic test results);
    • biometric (e.g., fingerprints);
    • financial (e.g., confidential account information, including expenditures and debt);
    • communications (e.g., private communications);
    • geolocation; or,
    • personal data concerning government officials; including members of the military or intelligence community.

Please also see the CSIS regional fact sheets to learn what research sectors are most vulnerable in each province.

What can I do?

Researchers can take an active role in protecting their research in the following ways: