Canada Bans WeChat and Kaspersky Apps on Government Devices

Canada Bans WeChat and Kaspersky Apps

In a move to fortify its cyber defenses, the Government of Canada has officially declared a ban on the use of WeChat and the Kaspersky suite of applications on government-issued mobile devices. The announcement was made today by Anita Anand, the President of the Treasury Board.

This decision underscores the Canadian government’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the security of government information and networks. The authorities are vigilant in monitoring potential threats and are quick to respond to mitigate risks.

Effective October 30, 2023, WeChat and the Kaspersky suite of applications will be expunged from all government-issued mobile devices. Furthermore, users of these devices will be prevented from downloading these applications in the future.

The ban was the result of an assessment conducted by the Chief Information Officer of Canada, who found that WeChat and Kaspersky applications posed an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.

Specifically, the data collection methods employed by these applications on mobile devices provide these apps with an alarming degree of access to the device’s contents.

This move has been taken to ensure that the Government of Canada’s networks and data remain secure and protected, aligning with international best practices.

Importantly, while the risks associated with these applications are evident, there is currently no evidence that government information has been compromised.

For the general public, the decision to use social media applications or mobile platforms remains a personal choice.

However, the Communications Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre) offers guidance and advice on the use of personal social media and the security considerations that should be taken into account when utilizing social media within an organizational context.

President Anita Anand stated:

“We are taking a risk-based approach to cyber security by removing access to these applications on government mobile devices. The Government of Canada continuously works to safeguard our information systems and networks to ensure the privacy and protection of government information. We will continue to regularly monitor potential cyber threats and take immediate action when needed.”

The Policy on Service and Digital- sets out the acceptable and unacceptable ways employees can use Government of Canada electronic networks and devices.

Agencies and Crown corporations outside the Policy on Service and Digital are being informed about the removal of the WeChat and Kaspersky suite of applications.

This ban on WeChat and Kaspersky apps is a clear sign of the Canadian government’s dedication to bolstering its cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive government information and networks.