Feeds

Canadian finance ministries closed off from web after cyberspy hack

Blame Canada China

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?