February 18, 2011 / 7:05 PM / in 7 years

Canada says budget data safe from hackers

PARIS (Reuters) - Hackers who broke into the computer system at Canada’s finance ministry did not obtain any confidential information on the upcoming federal budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Friday.

Flaherty said he was not taking any additional security measures in the wake of the incident.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported on Wednesday that hackers using China-based servers last month had broken into computer systems at the Finance Department and Treasury Board.

Another senior cabinet minister confirmed on Thursday the attack was serious, aimed at obtaining financial records, but that the government had managed to protect sensitive data.

“There’s no suggestion that budget secrecy has been compromised in any way in my finance department,” Flaherty told reporters in Paris prior to a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors. “We’re concerned about it.”

Flaherty is working on the annual budget containing market-sensitive data, which he will present to parliament some time in March.

The budget contents are also highly political because if the minority government fails to win opposition support for its spending plan, it could face defeat and a snap election.

Flaherty suggested the only reason Ottawa was able to detect the attack in the first place was because of C$90 million ($90 million) it provided in the last budget to tighten cyber-security.

“We’re actively engaged on that,” he said. “They have a plan, the security people do, with respect to our ability to defend from cyber attack.”

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman denied there was a Chinese link to the hacking.

Canada’s spy agency complains regularly about what it says is industrial espionage by China and other states.

Reporting by Louise Egan, editing by Mike Peacock

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