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Canada Security News

Foreign Hackers Attack Canadian Government 208

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-off-hackers dept.
An anonymous reader writes " According to the CBC: 'An unprecedented cyberattack on the Canadian government from China has given foreign hackers access to highly classified federal information, and forced at least two key departments off the internet, CBC News has learned. The attack, first detected in early January, left Canadian counter-espionage agents scrambling to determine how much sensitive government information may have been stolen and by whom.' It should be noted that the Auditor-General warned of this months ago and was ignored by everyone as she usually is. It should also be noted that public sentiment towards China is getting very, very testy."
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Foreign Hackers Attack Canadian Government

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  • by kyrio (1091003) <slashdot.lurkmore@com> on Thursday February 17, 2011 @06:08AM (#35230078) Homepage
    Attacking every country for gains which are likely worth nothing. Great way to get yourself banned from the playground.
    • by c0lo (1497653) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @06:15AM (#35230102)

      Great way to get yourself banned from the playground.

      This can't happen overnight... it already owns too many balls, not to mention the playground and some referees... better get used to how the game is played nowadays.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Well, the Canadians told them to get away from their shitty firewall, but the Chinese wouldn't listen.

      • "Attack" seems a poor choice of words. In the cold war days we simply called this "spying" or "espionage". The fact the spies are now sitting behind computers instead of sneaking into buildings doesn't require a new word.

        It's really just gov't propaganda. "Oh horror! Our country was ATTACKED! We need to lockdown the internet, so we can save you."

      • It actually did happen overnight -- but due to the Senkaku Islands incident. The entire world is scrambling to create alternatives to China, and East-Asian nations are basically saying, "USA, get back in here!"

        The fact is that, while people around the world adore "China," nobody likes the People's Republic, their leadership, their ideals, or their actions. That dislike is rapidly turning into animosity, both from the public and officials. Except maybe Myanmar and Pakistan.

        It's worth mentioning that Chinese

        • by Nadaka (224565) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @11:49AM (#35232578)

          The Communist Party is China is the Han race is the Communist Party.

          They are a racist authoritarian theocratic (their religion is the Communist Party) regime with a lot of support from a lot of their citizens.

          There are exceptions, but most of them either left china, have been imprisoned/killed or say nothing out of fear.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        p>This can't happen overnight... it already owns too many balls

        with a billion people, around 50% male.....that must be like a billion balls

    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @06:16AM (#35230108) Homepage Journal
      It's actually a lot more complicated than this. China buys a TON of natural resources from Canada(and info on said resources is probably one of the most likely targets). Canada is probably in even more of a bind vis a vis China then the United States is. While Canada's government isn't nearly as indebted to the Chinese as the Americans are, the Canadian economy depends much more on selling to China than the US economy does. Of course on the flip side if you eliminate access to Canadian resources all of a sudden Chinese manufacturing becomes much more uncompetitive.
      • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@@@gmail...com> on Thursday February 17, 2011 @07:41AM (#35230434) Homepage

        Canada's largest export partner is the US, the second is Europe(all). All of Asia combined ranks 3rd, but we still export more materials to Japan and India than China. Unless you're counting either coal, or nickle. Really if you eliminate Canadian resources? The world goes for a shit spin, mighty fast because ~30-35% of the market just went poof.

        Really though? If China pulls shit and we take our ball and go home, not much will happen in Canada. We have other markets(south america, and russia--along with various others not mentioned) which we can continue to supply goods to. It will hurt china more, than it will hurt us.

        • by aveldina (938862) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @10:29AM (#35231548)
          Which part of the country do you live in? In general it seems you're correct. However it's worth mentioning that out here in the frozen prairies much of the current economic strength, especially in Saskatchewan, has been coming from potash. You can't hear a discussion about potash and not hear China mentioned at least once, China is a huge buyer of the potash produced here. The price of potash has gone up significantly in recent years and they rely on it. Having China refuse to buy potash might not hurt people out in the east, but in the prairies we certainly would be impacted by it.
          • Meh, your neighbors down here in the south (The U.S.) could probably buy up your potash, as we seem completely intent on shutting down all of our own mines of the stuff. (Mostly because the neighbors think is smells bad, from what I can gather).
          • by gfreeman (456642)

            The US will stop importing oil way before China stops importing potash. A billion mouths have to be fed somehow.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            I live in Ontario. But you're right, in the prairies(atleast sk), the talk of the day for the last couple of years has been china and potash. In Manitoba, it's grain exports to europe, in alberta it's exports of oil/coal/other minerals like copper to everywhere. In BC it's mainly forestry, gold, and fish(like out on the east coast). Ontario in the south is mainly ahhhfuck...where's the industry at? Northern it's tourism, mining, and forestry. Quebec? Yeah well...most of that is power generation and e

        • by tixxit (1107127)
          There seems to be a trend of people overestimating the Chinese market. China is still largely an export country. They have tons of their own natural resources and they have artificially kept their dollar low to keep the flow of goods going out and not coming in.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's actually a lot more complicated than this. China buys a TON of natural resources from Canada(and info on said resources is probably one of the most likely targets). Canada is probably in even more of a bind vis a vis China then the United States is. While Canada's government isn't nearly as indebted to the Chinese as the Americans are, the Canadian economy depends much more on selling to China than the US economy does. Of course on the flip side if you eliminate access to Canadian resources all of a sudden Chinese manufacturing becomes much more uncompetitive.

        Well, Canada could always sell these resources to India instead. The two countries are currently in free trade talks:

        http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2010/11/12/canada-india-free-trade.html

        One interesting fact about China is that its current average age is 40, so in twenty years it will be 60. India has an average age of about 20 currently.

        China is probably approaching the height of its economic power before its population becomes silver, and so they're racing to become rich before they get old.

        • One interesting fact about China is that its current average age is 40, so in twenty years it will be 60.

          It scares me that this might not be a joke, and that is has been modded Interesting. Windmills do not work that way!

        • by cyfer2000 (548592)

          "One interesting fact about China is that its current average age is 40, so in twenty years it will be 60. "

          This is interesting indeed. In two years, I am going to be as old as my elder brother. This makes me happy.

      • China buys a TON of natural resources from Canada.

        What's the opposite of hyperbole? Hypobole?

    • Obvious China ain't too bright attacking every country for gains which are likely worth nothing. It should attacking every country for gains which are worth a lot and single out inexperienced players like China as the bad guy. Or China shloud build it's own playground and pretend to be the good guy.
      • They arent attacking anyone. They are data mining ilegally and getting caught. Espionage isnt an attack yet. Theyre getting really close though...
      • by lorenlal (164133)

        That or... Maybe they're trying to find a way to get access to SIPRNet? Canada is a trusted ally of the United States and does have access to some of our secure networks.

        The chances of actually getting access to SIRPNet would be low, but maybe the possible payoff is enough for them to try anyway?

      • China attacks by erosion. They steal American product ideas, produce them cheaper in China, and out compete us. Then there is the hacking seemingly not so interesting things. However, over time, they accumulate a significant advantage.
    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      No kidding. When will they learn there's no money in moose futures?

    • There seems to be no evidence either way, as all the routing info can be faked. Ask yourself who has most to gain? Who would gain most from the spin that China goes around hacking the Canadians? Who would like all their neighbours to sign up for some online neighborhood watch scheme for government snooping?
  • by mirix (1649853) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @06:12AM (#35230088)

    I was sort of half asleep on the drive home, but the radio made it sound like some moron installed a trojan (presumably hot_pic_of_me.jpg.exe), which then scraped internal networks (that should have had better access control, no doubt) for anything interesting. It was pretty vague but that's about what I picked up from it.

    Sounds like amateur night anyhow. Maybe they've got HBGary running their security.

  • What I can't seem to wrap my head around is why they would even have that kind of information on a computer that is open to the internet. Why on earth would you expose sensitive computers to the world for anyone to hack? It just doesn't make sense to me.

    • Define "sensitive". You have sensitive information on your own computer, yet you expose it to the internet too. At some point it will come down to convenience and efficiency. For some things, there's no way around it, unless you want to have every single conversation and do every single transaction in person.

      • by KClaisse (1038258)

        I'll use whatever the government defines as sensitive.

        • That would probably be everything they do, including all email, which by necessity has to travel via the internet. There will of course be different levels of classification, and hopefully they'd encrypt the "more sensitive" stuff.. but really, even if there are good security policies in place, quite frankly a lot of people are idiots when it comes to using computers, and will make mistakes anyway. Mistakes like running a trojan, which makes a lot of security measures useless, if for example the trojan did

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      It just doesn't make sense to me...
      They like to look up Ford car parts, bathroom repair, fantasy football and correct wikipedia ect ... all from their day jobs ip
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIPRNet [wikipedia.org] I dont know about Canada but the US has theyre own worlwide network, completely separate from the WWW.
  • by Haffner (1349071) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @06:22AM (#35230128)
    All the news of China's hacking attempts, compounded with the links many of those have to government, begs the question: "How far is too far?" When will the US (or the international community) hold China accountable and force them to stop these actions? The way I see it, what they are doing is worse than firing shells over a border. This could easily be a buildup for a larger attack, yet no one has done anything substantial yet.
    • by migla (1099771)

      The US or the international community won't force China. We only force weak countries that don't pose any real threat, like Saddams Iraq after more than a decade of UN sanctions and with no WMD:s.

    • by david.given (6740) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Thursday February 17, 2011 @08:25AM (#35230654) Homepage Journal

      This could easily be a buildup for a larger attack, yet no one has done anything substantial yet.

      Some actual hard evidence that China is involved in any any meaningful way would be nice.

      From the article:

      They caution, however, that there is no way of knowing whether the hackers are Chinese, or some other nationality routing their cybercrimes through China to cover their tracks.

    • by R2.0 (532027) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @10:02AM (#35231306)

      The problem is that the Chinese government isn't doing it - they are simply giving others license to do it, with assurances of government protection and payment.

      Sound familiar? It is - it's called privateering. It used to be done with ships on the sea; now it's done with computers on the internet. While China may not be at war with us, their use of privateers is proof that they do NOT mean us well.

      So how do we combat it? Article I, Section 8, paragraph 11 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to "grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water." Imagine if the US Congress granted Google the authority to go after China - can you imagine how much havoc that would wreak if Google employees focused 20% of their time on fucking with China?

    • The US (or the international community*) will hold China accountable the day they are willing to start World War III. I guess China can do much worse things than some spying around before people let the nukes fly around.

      By the way, the US can always deal with hina by economical means, but that won't stop the spying.

      * WTF is that anyway?

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @06:22AM (#35230134)
    TFA

    How it was done
    In the world of cybercops, it is called "executive spear-phishing."

    This is what you get if the executives you have are fishes, no matter (or even easier) if they look/behave like sharks.

  • The Chinese may have acquired... *dramatic pause* stealth mÃÃse technology!

    • by EnsilZah (575600)

      Hmm, that'll teach me to preview before using non-ASCII characters.

      The word was 'moose' in case anyone is wondering, and apparently the technology is already in use.

      • Hmm, that'll teach me to preview before using non-ASCII characters.

        The word was 'moose' in case anyone is wondering, and apparently the technology is already in use.

        A m00se once bit my sister.

    • by qmaqdk (522323)

      Maybe we should...

      *puts on sunglasses*

      ...start hunting.

      YYYYYEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  • Canada? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @07:13AM (#35230306)
    What did the steal? Their recipe for maple syrup?
    • Re:Canada? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Laxitive (10360) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @10:36AM (#35231622) Journal

      God no. We keep that shit in a bunker underneath the Canadian shield, disconnected from the internet. You don't leave national secrets like that just lying around.

      On a serious note, China's main interest is in Canada's natural resources. As they grow and industrialize, their need to import massive amounts of raw resources to fuel their economy and people.

      For example, Saskatchewan has basically the largest natural deposits of Potash in the world. The whole province is basically potash.. dig anywhere.. and you'll hit potash. Potash is what they make fertilizer out of. Not too long ago, a chinese firm wanted to acquire Potash Corp., Saskatchewan's potash producer. There was a big ruckus raised about it internally, and eventually the sale was stopped by the federal government after the extremely popular provincial minister went on the warpath about Saskatchewan natural resources being sold to foreign interests.

      I don't disagree with that move (It'd be idiotic to sell off the rights to your own land's bounty).. but China really doesn't like not being able to get what they want. While it's not proven that it was the Chinese government behind these attacks, my suspicion is that they are (occam's razor). There's a well known effort by China to influence the Canadian government and people, and it's been brought up in the national media not too long ago.

      -Laxitive

      • And a great way to drum up some anti-selling-our-land-to-foreigners sentiments would be to let it be known that they are spying on your government.

      • by Laxitive (10360)

        An AC pointed this out in a reply to my post correcting some factual errors in my post. It was an australian company (BHP) doing the bidding, and that was scuttled. The executives, however, were not happy with the BHP bid (which was hostile), and were trying to arrange a more lucrative deal with a Chinese company.

        The federal action scuttled both potential deals. Anyway, the point is that China buys a LOT of potash from Canada, and has strategic interests in that resource.

        -Laxitive

      • Yeah, I have to say, that I have little issue with another western nation owning such resources (though I would prefer it remain local if it was in my area), HOWEVER, when you have a nation that ignores all of their treaties and is waging the equivalence of NATIONAL economic war, then it makes ZERO sense to allow them to own that.
  • My tip for her would be to sensationalize this until people start paying attention. But I've never watched Canadian news, so I don't know if they're the same level of hyperbole (100%, plus or minus nothing at all, because it's 100% hyperbole).
    • I'm from the UK, but now living in Canada - so I've been brought up on the BBC News [bbc.co.uk]. I don't have time to watch much news, but I do get CTV here with my cable package and tend to watch it in the morning over breakfast. I have chosen to watch half an episode of Glen Beck (I got bored quarter of the way through and couldn't stomach the rest), but I do watch the Daily Show regularly.

      I can say that hyperbole is an American form of reporting.

      And you can keep it as far as I'm concerned!

      • Thats just Fox News for you. I am not sure why its so full of bat-shit crazy people. Between that blubbering twat Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, its a regular loonie bin.
  • ...if you read TFA.

    What's with all the xenophobic vilification of China these days? We're getting a steady stream of OMG CHINA EVIL articles, none of which are actually backed up by any evidence. What is this, Fox News?

  • It's not surprising. I would bet the pwnage is larger than they think.  Most admins I know are bright people but just simply lack the sills to even secure a resource in the nost mediocre way. In fact, many of them view the corporate lan as and extension of their home network and apply the same 'security' methods across both.
    • by Trails (629752)

      We should believe this because the author wrote it in Courier New, making it look more like shell text, and highlighting his overall l33tn3ss.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @09:50AM (#35231180)

    Auditor-General Sheila Fraser, for one, first raised the alarm in 2002 when she warned "there are weaknesses in the system.

    "There are access controls that need to be fixed; there are a whole series of minimum security issues that are not being dealt with. There are vulnerabilities. Government needs to fix them."

    Three years later, Fraser checked again and found not much had changed.

    • Sheila Fraser should be given the title of Canada's Emperor for life.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        Why?

        It's a fixed length non-reappointable term, making "for lfe" not an option.

        And all bar two (three if you count the one acting holder) of the people who have had that title had it for longer than she has so far.

        • Why:
          She does an exceptionally good job, she seems to know and understand what is happening in every branch of government and here prediction are always on spot. We would be better served by a benevolent dictator like her than our current bunch of buffoons in Parliament.

  • they don't flaunt their nationalism, but its there and its quiet and its real

    i see something concrete in response coming out of this as more likely than if europeans or americans were attacked

    c'mon ottawa, do something. show that at least somebody has a backbone in response to these provocations. london or washington dc wouldn't, and didn't, do anything

  • We should nuke them. Oh wait we don't have any. America, mind if we borrow a few?

  • Either China is the next superpower whose superiority is backed by superb cyber offense capability, or one of these days their "victims" are gonna expose their hubris and gonna send them(China) back to IT stone age. Chinese were quick off the blocks as regards information warfare [fas.org] Add to that their military doctrine is about hiding their strength, obscurity et al. So if they are attacking and not bothering to hide, hmmm.. What are they upto?
  • > It should also be noted that public sentiment towards China is getting very, very testy.

    I'm part of the public, and I know lots of other members of the public - I don't see anyones sentiment anywhere near "testy" about China.

    Papers, tv news, radio ... I spend a good amount of time keeping up on them, and I don't think I've heard anything 'testy' about China expressed.

    Given that that statement doesn't come from the article, I'm guessing either the submitter or editor added that. Either way, stop making shit up. We have Fox News/the Toronto Sun for that

  • 'An unprecedented cyberattack on the Canadian government from China has given foreign hackers access to highly classified federal information

    Find out who put this "highly classified federal information" on the Internet and charge him/her with gross negligence and clap him/her in jail for twenty years. Is sombody looking to bump up their federal budget this year?
  • ...what kind of classified information does Canada have worth stealing? I could understand the US, which has its grubby little fingers in everything behind locked doors, but Canada?
  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @11:44AM (#35232508) Homepage Journal
    Seriously China? Canada? What the hell did Canada ever do to you? What valuable information could they possibly have that you couldn't get by your regular, scheduled attacks on U.S. networks? Canada is like the cool, friendly kid in class, that everyone likes, and isn't a douchebag to anyone. Picking on them is like taking a piss on a puppy. You've just demonstrated yourselves to be a bunch of wankers, China.
  • If you look at the two departments within the Canadian Government that were specifically targeted they were the Treasury and Fiance.

    How much do you want to bet that this has absolutely nothing to do with the Chinese government and more to do with your typical criminals phishing for finical information that they can use to score some dough. They deal with large sums of money, and have been criticized in the past for lax network security. Much harder to hit a commercial bank. That said I doubt the Chinese gov

  • Chinese Gov. is in a cold war with the west. Right now, it is about getting as much information AND tech as possible. It is time to move western nation govs on to a seperate network, and then create another network or two within EACH nation in which vital resources (power plants, trains, planes, etc) are on that. It is not enough to be a VPN. It must be a PHYSICALLY seperated network. Ideally, we will go back to building our own switches/routers for at least this area.
  • If the enemies of a country have their secrets, can you still claim that their own people have no right to them?
  • I find it amusing that if this were an "entertainment" type story, you'd have the usual suspects doing the "it's not stealing!" semantics dance. "Unauthorized copying != theft!" After all, the canadians still have their documents, right?

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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