China hackers behind cyber attack on Canada: report

February 17, 2011 by Clement Sabourin
Photo illustration. Chinese hackers have launched an unprecedented cyberattack on the Canadian government, penetrating the computer systems of two key agencies and forcing them offline, CBC reported.

China-based hackers have launched an unprecedented cyber-attack on the Canadian government, penetrating the computer systems of two key agencies and forcing them offline, CBC reported.

Asked about the report, the Treasury Board issued a brief statement recognizing it had detected an "unauthorized attempt to access its networks," but did not elaborate.

"Employee access to the Internet has been limited for the time being," said Treasury Board spokesman Jay Denney.

CBC News cited "highly placed sources" in conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government as saying that the cyber-attacks, first detected in January, were traced to computer servers in China.

China on Thursday rejected as "groundless" the reports suggesting it was behind the unprecedented on the Canadian government.

"The allegation that the Chinese government supports Internet hacking is groundless," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters during a regular briefing.

"The Chinese government attaches importance to the safety of computer networks and asks computer and Internet users to abide by laws and regulations."

The hackers managed to penetrate the computer systems at the Finance Department and the Treasury Board, according to CBC. They also successfully overpowered computers in the offices of senior government officials in a bid to steal passwords that hold the key to systems.

Although CBC said it could not determine whether the attackers were Chinese or simply other nationals who used China-based servers, CTV television said they were " hackers."

It cited sources as saying the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has advised government officials not to name China as the origin of the attacks, or even discuss the matter.

Chinese espionage has become a "major problem" for Canada and other countries, a senior government official told CTV.

CBC said it remained unclear whether the attackers were able to access other computer networks, such as those containing Canadians' tax and health records along with other personal details.

Upon learning of the attack, Canadian cybersecurity officials shut down Internet access at the two departments as they scrambled to prevent hackers from stealing more information via the Internet, it added.

"There are no indications that any data relating to Canadians was compromised by this unauthorized attempt to access the TBS (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat) network," said Denney.

"The government of Canada has plans in place to prevent, minimize and address the impacts of cyber threats."

Several governments have pointed to the growing threat of Chinese espionage online.

Last week, US computer security firm McAfee said hackers from China had penetrated of global oil companies, stealing financial documents on bidding plans and other confidential information.

The United States has created its own Cyber Command, while NATO leaders agreed in November to enshrine cybersecurity as one of the 28-nation military alliance's priorities.

In January 2010, Google said it had fallen victim to attacks by China-based cyber spies apparently intent on hacking into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. The attack touched off a huge battle with Beijing on censorship.

Explore further: SKorea and US forge deal to fight cyber attacks

Related Stories

SKorea and US forge deal to fight cyber attacks

May 4, 2009

South Korea and the United States have agreed to cooperate in fighting cyber attacks against their defence networks from countries including China and North Korea, officials said Monday.

China rejects claims of Internet hacking attacks

January 25, 2010

(AP) -- The Chinese government denied involvement in Internet attacks and defended its online censorship Monday after the United States urged Beijing to investigate complaints of cyber intrusions in a dispute that has added ...

Report: Hackers in China hit Western oil companies

February 10, 2011

(AP) -- Hackers operating from China stole sensitive information from Western oil companies, a U.S. security firm reported Thursday, adding to complaints about pervasive Internet crime traced to the country.

Germany reports 'sharp rise' in cyberattacks

December 27, 2010

Germany detected a sharp rise in cyberattacks in 2010, many originating in China, and plans to set up a special centre next year to deal with the danger, the government said on Monday.

Recommended for you

Old, meet new: Drones, high-tech camera revamp archaeology

November 24, 2017

Scanning an empty field that once housed a Shaker village in New Hampshire, Jesse Casana had come in search of the foundations of stone buildings, long-forgotten roadways and other remnants of this community dating to the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.