Canada says cyber-attack serious, won't harm budget

Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:29pm EST
 

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A cyber-attack on two Canadian economic ministries, while serious, won't affect the timing of next month's federal budget, a top cabinet minister said on Thursday.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp said hackers using China-based servers last month had broken into computer systems at the Finance Department and Treasury Board. The Finance Department is preparing the federal budget.

"I wouldn't say it's the most aggressive (attack) but it was a significant one, significant that they were going after financial records. ... We were able to shut things down and protect information," Treasury Board Minister Stockwell Day told reporters.

"It slows down your internal operations for a while because we had to immediately shut down certain parts of the network ... but those are all in the process of being reopened. The budget's on track and it's going to be a good budget."

CBC said the hackers had also gained access to an agency that advises the armed forces on science and technology.

David Skillicorn, a professor of computing at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said one target might have been data about Canada's booming commodities industry.

"If we guess it was the Chinese with some economic motivation, then presumably they're interested in some decision the government might be making on taxes or budgets that will impact contracting with some Canadian mining company, or something like that," he told Reuters.

"There are lots of things the Chinese are interested in but that certainly -- in the Canadian context -- jumps out as the big one at the moment."   Continued...