Feeds

Canadian finance ministries closed off from web after cyberspy hack

Blame Canada China

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.