Policy Statement on Research Security and COVID-19


September 14, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

As researchers and innovators continue to lead Canada’s efforts to address the global COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impacts, the Government of Canada remains concerned by the actions of hostile actors targeting COVID-19 related research in Canada and is encouraging all members of the research community – including those in government, academia, and the private sector – to take extra precautions to protect the security of COVID-19 related research, intellectual property and knowledge development. In doing so, the research community will help to not only safeguard critical pandemic-related research and innovation, but to also protect national security, the integrity of Canada’s research ecosystem, and to support long-term economic competitiveness and prosperity.

While the Government remains committed to the principles of Open Science as an essential part of innovative and collaborative research, the global pandemic has prompted new, aggressive targeting of research. Following the recent warnings issued by our partners at the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Government is asking organizations involved in COVID-19 research to be vigilant and alert to potential threats directed to their people and their work.

Espionage and foreign interference activities by both human and cyber actors pose real threats to Canadian research integrity, intellectual property and business interests. Canadian research organizations should remain vigilant and ensure that they are applying best practices for securing their research and intellectual property, including employing strong cybersecurity and physical security protocols. Innovators, researchers and research institutions should consult the Government of Canada’s Safeguarding Your Research webpage to access helpful tools, information and links to resources and learn about best practices that will assist them in protecting the knowledge and innovations they are developing.

The Government has also instructed federal research funding agencies, including the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to review their security policies and processes and to promote awareness of the best practices and tools available to the Canadian researchers and innovators they fund, so researchers can appropriately protect their innovative work. 

For the reasons outlined above, the Government of Canada is encouraging all members of the research ecosystem to be aware of the potential risks to their work and asking them to take appropriate measures to protect their knowledge creation and innovations, all while maintaining a strong commitment to Open Science and support for a global research response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, P.C., M.P.

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.

The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P.


John Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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