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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Canadian Government computers, US energy firms hacked

Methodology of Ottawa computer hacking similar to US energy firm breach

In light of the CBC's report about the unwelcome intrusion into the Finance Department and Treasury Board's computer systems, the Government of Canada may want to consult with some United States oil and gas companies, who themselves experienced a serious breach of their information networks over the past couple of years.

The Canadian Ministries were hit by an unprecedented cyber attack from Chinese-based computers (according to the CBC report Feb 16) in January 2011 that penetrated two key economic departments, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported yesterday.

Night Dragon attack on US energy companies also used email passwords

On February 9th in the US, McAfee released a report about Chinese hacking into United States oil and gas firms, naming the attacks Night Dragon. The report said five known companies had been hacked and another seven or so had also been broken into but could not be identified.

"It ... speaks to quite a sad state of our critical infrastructure security. These were not sophisticated attacks ... yet they were very successful in achieving their goals," said Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee's vice president for threat research.

The hackers got into the computers in one of two ways, either through their public websites or through infected emails sent to company executives.

The USA Night Dragon hack was traced back to China via a server leasing company in Shandong Province that hosted the malware, another term for malicious software, and to Beijing IP addresses that were active from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beijing time (0100-0900 GMT).

McAfee's report did not identify who was behind the hacking.

"We have no evidence that this is government sponsored in any way," said Alperovitch.

McAfee provided the data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which did not respond to requests for comment. Although the CBC said the Canadian attacks originated in China, the Canadian officials have not confirmed that, and a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu described the link to China as "purely fictitious."

Related cyber-links:

Chinese hackers infiltrate US energy companies' computers

Revolution 2.0: How Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google sparked an uprising

Yahoo News report Canada hit by cyberattack

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