The Canadian government’s IT systems suffered a large scale cyber attack that apparently originated in China, it has been reported.
On Wednesday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation cited senior government sources who claim hackers broke into the Finance Department and Treasury Board’s IT systems last month.
According to CBC’s report, the attackers successfully took control of computers belonging to some senior government officials. It claims this was part of a broader scheme to gain passwords to confidential government databases.
Once the attack was detected, both departments blocked Internet access to prevent data being funnelled back to hackers. One department has claimed it does not believe any data was stolen.
"There are no indications that any data relating to Canadians was compromised by this unauthorised attempt to access the TBS (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat) network," spokesperson Jay Denney told AFP. "The government of Canada has plans in place to prevent, minimise and address the impacts of cyber threats."
CBC’s sources reasoned that the attacks may have originated elsewhere and were simply routed through servers based in China.
Chinese authorities have already moved to dismiss any official involvement as "fictitious". "China attaches great importance to computer security and consistently opposes and cracks down on hacking activities according to relative laws and regulations," said foreign ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu when quizzed on the attack. "Hacking is an international problem and China is affected also."