Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Hackers make off with Government of Canada data

Back in April 2010, two groups (The Citizen Lab and The SecDev Group) discovered that government computers in 103 countries were compromised by hackers from China.  They wrote about it in a published report called Shadows in the Cloud.

Fast forward to the fall of 2010 when Communications Security Establishment Canada (Canada's electronic eavesdropping agency) started looking for signs that Canada's governmental networks had been compromised.

Fast forward to January 2011, when a hack was discovered in three Canadian government departments including the Department of Finance and an agency of the Department of National Defence.

A memo written at the end of January 2011 states:
"Indications are that data has been exfiltrated and that privileged accounts have been compromised,"

Moving on to February 2011, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper says that the government has a strategy to protect computer systems, but admits that cybersecurity is a "a growing issue of importance."

And now in June 2011, through a memo that the CBC received through an access to information request, that hackers stole classified information.

So, what's happened in the interim?

Departments have set up workstations on each floor where employees can go to access the Internet for work purposes.   And what happens when those are busy?   They take their laptops down to the local coffee shop and access needed resources there.

So, now that the secure corporate environment has been breached, the next target will be the coffee shop wireless connection.   My guess is that the wireless connections at coffee shops probably don't undergo the same rigorous security that goes into a typical corporate network.   But in this case, whoever the hackers are that infiltrated the government networks, they have definitely flushed the game out of the woods.