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Hackers shutdown Canada gov't database
Fri, 18 Feb 2011 04:34:14 GMT
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Canada's Finance Department and Treasury Board have been forced to cut their internet servers after hackers gained access to government databases.

The Canadian Treasury Board -- which supervises bureaucratic and government operations -- released a statement saying it had detected an "unauthorized attempt to access its networks.”

"There are no indications that any data relating to Canadians was compromised," Treasury Board Minister Stockwell Day told Reuters.

The hackers also targeted Defense Research and Development Canada -- a civilian branch of the National Defense Department that supports science and technology matters for the Canadian Forces.

Computers of senior government officials were accessed by hackers in an effort to steal passwords to unlock government data systems. The hackers used a technique known as “executive spear phishing.”

They first targeted the computers of senior officials in the departments. They then created messages that appeared to be from those officials to contact the information technology (IT) section that handed over passwords of various government computer systems.

The cyber-attack has been traced back to Chinese computer servers, but Beijing has denied any involvement.

"The allegation that the Chinese government supports internet hacking is groundless," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

It is possible that the Chinese servers were used to disguise the original location of the hackers, analysts have said.

Canadian counter-espionage agents first discovered the hacking in January. It has left agency officials without internet access for almost two months.

Thousands of civil servants have been forced to use the internet at home or leave their offices to use wireless internet at nearby cafes.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has refused to release any further comments, after initially describing the attack as an “attempt to access” federal networks.

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