Feeds

Canadian finance ministries closed off from web after cyberspy hack

Blame Canada China

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Updated Chinese hackers have been blamed for looting sensitive Canadian government documents, forcing two government departments off the internet as a response.

CBC reports that the attacks, first detected in January, have been traced back to Chinese computer networks – while noting the important caveat that compromised systems in China might have been used by third parties to disguise their tracks.

The assaults targeted the computer networks of the Finance Department and Treasury Board, key Canadian economics ministries. Access to the internet from both departments was restricted following the discovery of the attacks last month. The attacks involved a combination of targeted spear-phishing attacks designed to fool government officials into handing over passwords and the use of malware.

The pattern of the attack matches that GhostNet assault that penetrated 100 other governments around the world back in March 2010.

CBC reported that Information Warfare Monitor, the Canadian group that detected those attacks, ran audits of government systems at the behest of the Canadian Security Establishment (CSE), a little-known armed forces division that serves as Canada's signals intelligence agency.

IWM issued a statement (extract below) strongly denying these claims.

The Information Warfare Monitor is an independent university based research group that conducts public research. We are not involved in this internal Canadian government investigation. We are, however, keenly aware of the risks of such breaches and are undertaking research into threats to Canada’s networks and will issue an independent report in due course.

What's not in dispute is that audits in late 2010 revealed that the two Canadian economics ministries had been comprehensively compromised, a problem not uncovered at the time of the original Ghostnet investigation some months before.

Sources involved in the investigation spoke to CBC News under the proviso that they would remain anonymous. Quizzed by CBC, federal government spokespeople would only say that an "attempt to access" federal networks had been detected.

In June 2009, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warned that cyber-attacks against government and private industry systems were growing substantially. China, most recently blamed for cyber-attacks against at least energy firms that targeted data on oil and gas field finds, has been blamed by a series of government over cyber-espionage, charges the Chinese government has consistently dismissed. In addition, Google last year publicly blamed China for the Operation Aurora attacks against it and other hi-tech firms. ®

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs
BadUSB instructs gadget chips to inject key-presses, redirect net traffic and more
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?