Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cyberattacks Target Canadian Government

The Canadian government admitted on February 17 that several departments had recently suffered a series of cyberattacks. The attacks had specifically targeted the Department of Finance, the Treasury Board, and the Defense Research and Development Department. Government officials stated that the attacks were traced back to computers located in China. The Chinese government denied any complicity.
According to Treasury Board President Stockwell Day, the security breaches were “significant [in] that they were going after financial records.” The Department of National Defense, meanwhile, was still attempting to determine what data had been scoured within its Defence and Research Development branch.
Discoveries of the attacks forced the affected government departments to temporarily disconnect from the Internet. cbc News reported that this kind of hacker attack can be “dreadfully effective” and that
hackers using servers in China gained control of a number of Canadian government computers belonging to top federal officials. Then, posing as federal executives, they sent e-mails to departmental technical staffers, conning them into providing key passwords that gave them access to government networks.

At the same time, the hackers sent other staff seemingly innocuous memos as attachments. The moment an attachment was opened by a recipient, a viral program was unleashed on the network.

The program then hunted for specific kinds of classified government information, and sent it back to the hackers over the Internet.
With the wave of Chinese corporate takeovers and investment in Canadian resource companies, Chinese corporations may have been searching for information on Canada’s political climate.
Way back in 2002, Canada’s Solicitor General Sheila Fraser raised alarms about the need for the government to bring its cybersecurity standards up to par. Three years later she reported that not much had been done. It seems that Canada is still very vulnerable today.
Back in 1999, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry first warned about the vulnerability of major American computer systems to the dangers of such cyberattacks. He called it “America’s Achilles heel.” It is evident that Canada’s computer systems are equally as vulnerable.