Canadian spy agency releases top-secret malware detection tool to help businesses

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada's elite intelligence agency, has decided to share its prized malware detection tool with the public to protect businesses and citizens from malicious cyber attacks.

The spy agency's malware detection tool can handle a large variety of threats, ranging from tiny malware to attacks sponsored by nation states.

For Canadian citizens and businesses, the fight against harmful malware, ransomware, and other viruses unleashed by malicious actors just got a lot easier, for the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the country's elite spy agency, has decided to release its best malware detection tool for public use.

The new tool, named Assemblyline, is set to be open-sourced and considering the fact that it is a tried-and-tested tool to locate and defeat harmful code, is expected to be embraced by a lot of businesses in Canada, particularly banks and other financial firms.

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'Malicious files can allow threat actors to access sensitive systems, extract valuable data or corrupt vital services. Assemblyline will benefit small and large businesses by allowing them to better protect their data from theft and compromise,' said the CSE in a press release.

'Most software of a similar nature is proprietary to a company and not available to the software development community. CSE is releasing Assemblyline to businesses, security researchers, industry, and academia, with no economic benefit to CSE.

'The release of Assemblyline benefits the country and CSE’s work to protect Canadian systems, and allows the cybersecurity community to build and evolve this valuable open-source software. The public release of Assemblyline enables malware security researchers to focus their efforts on creating new methods to detect malicious files,' it added.

According to Scott Jones, the head of IT at CSE, aside from its obvious benefits, Assemblyline's release will also put an end to the agency's secretive aura and will also give the general public a better look at the activities of the agency. Assemblyline's role will also expand significantly from merely protecting the government's sites, domains and IT systems to effectively protecting all of Canada's digital infrastructure.

Of late, citizens across Europe, the United States and other countries have expressed concern over the fact that their governments' spy agencies could be snooping on them and harvesting their data from the devices they use. Cyber weapons secretly developed by the NSA were used by hackers to victimise millions of people across the world, thereby raising questions about the agency's purpose and effectiveness in guarding secret codes.

Considering the growing mistrust, the CSE's gesture may reduce the lack of trust among the public which was quite obvious until recently because of the agency's clandestine activities.

'Whatever it detects, whether it be cybercrime or [nation] states, or anybody else that are doing things — well that's a good thing, because it's made the community smarter in terms of defence. We believe that the benefits far outweigh any risks and that we can still use this to be ahead of the threat that's out there,' Jones added.