On Thursday, the National Research Council of Canada said it has taken steps to protect its information following an alleged Chinese-backed cyberattack. Even with these additional steps, it could be months before business returns to normal according to the council.
The cyberattack, which was disclosed on Tuesday, forced the council to take down its information-technology infrastructure. The cyberattack was so intensive that the council is having to build new infrastructure in order to protect its sensitive business information. The new infrastructure won’t be completely operational for up to a year, leading to disruptions in the council’s day-to-day activities.
The Canadian government was adamant that the attack originated from China and alleged it was a “highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor” that was responsible.
China scoffed at the allegations. China’s Foreign Ministry had this to say in a statement, “The Canadian side, while lacking credible evidence, offered criticism for no reason. This is irresponsible and China is resolutely opposed to this.”
“We urge the Canadian side to correct its mistake, stop criticizing China for no reason, and dispel the negative effects that have come from this.”
Maybe this time Canada can take some steps that are actually effective at preventing intrusions.
This isn’t the first time the country has fell victim to large cyberattacks. In 2011, hackers hit the computer systems at the finance ministry and several other government departments. A 2012 attack took aim at a domestic manufacturer of software used by energy departments.
In both of those instances, Canadian officials did not point the finger at China.
So, who is responsible? We’ll probably never know, but one expert says the attack resemble similar ones made by a Chinese army unit. CrowdStrike Chief Technology Officer Dmitri Alperovitch told Reuters Canada the attack resembles the work of a an elite Chinese army unit known as Unit 61486.
“It certainly looks like one of the actors we track out of China that we’ve seen going after aircraft manufacturers in the past,” said Alperovitch.
Even if it was China, they are not about to admit to it. Plus, they could always just shrug it off and say it was rogue elements responsible for it, not a state-sponsored attack.