#CyberFLASH: Chinese spies and hackers, U.S. security and the Canadian Space Agency

a-woman-uses-her-computer-keyboard-to-type-while-surfing-the-internet-in-north-vClapper, the director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services committee Tuesday that he doesn’t think an agreement between the U.S. and China would stop such cyber attacks. The two nations reached a deal last week – both agreed not to conduct or support such cyber attacks on businesses.

The U.S. government had warned that it would consider economic sanctions if China’s economic spying didn’t stop.

The U.S. isn’t the only nation (obviously) that has faced such Chinese-directed operations. The computer systems of Canada’s National Research Council have been hacked a number of times, although the Chinese deny they are involved. Last year after one of the attacks, CTV confirmed through security sources that the culprit was “a highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor.”

And several months ago there was a news report that didn’t get a lot of pickup but was nonetheless very interesting. Chinese investors had planned to build a $30 million factory to produce fire alarms in Quebec.

The proposed site, however, was to be located just down the way from the headquarters of the Canadian Space Agency.

La Presse newspaper reported that Industry Canada put a halt to the project because of the property’s proximity to the space agency (about 1.7 kilometres away). The newspaper reported that Industry Canada had national security concerns but no further details were provided.

After the initial article there wasn’t a lot of further reporting on the situation. Industry Canada went silent. “The confidentiality provisions of the Investment Canada Act do not permit Industry Canada to comment on this matter,” Industry Canada spokeswoman Stéfanie Power told Defence Watch.

The Chinese company acknowledged receiving my request for comment but didn’t respond.

So what were the potential concerns about security? Aerospace industry sources tell Defence Watch that conceivably electronic data/transmissions from CSA headquarters could be monitored from a nearby location.

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#CyberFLASH: China probes two Canadians for alleged theft of state secrets


A Canadian couple living on the border with North Korea is being investigated by Chinese authorities for stealing military and defence secrets.

For years, Kevin and Julie Garratt ran Peter’s Coffee House, named after the couple’s youngest son, in Dandong, a Chinese city across the Yalu River from North Korea. The cafe was opened in 2008, after Mr. and Ms. Garratt moved to northeastern Dandong after previously working as teachers in southern China.

But on Monday, the Vancouver couple – who have been living in China since 1984 – stood accused by Chinese authorities of espionage and stealing state secrets. Their immediate whereabouts were unknown and calls to their coffee shop went unanswered.

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#CyberFLASH: China slams Canada for ‘irresponsible’ hacking accusations


BEIJING – China’s foreign ministry accused Canada on Thursday of making irresponsible accusations lacking any credible evidence after Canada singled out Chinese hackers for attacking a key computer network and lodged a protest with Beijing.

Officials said “a highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor” had recently broken into the National Research Council. The council, Canada’s leading research body, works with major companies such as aircraft and train maker Bombardier Inc..

Canada has reported hacking incidents before, but this was the first time it had singled out China.

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#CyberFLASH: NRC cyber-security breach sign of bigger problem


The attack on computer systems within the National Research Council that was revealed this week is another example of a concerning trend regarding the federal government’s efforts when it comes to protecting this country’s computer networks.

The attack has left the lead scientific organization in Canada crippled; officials say it could be more than a year before operations at the agency resume in a normal fashion.

While the government seems to be giving itself kudos for discovering the intrusion, the real question that needs to be asked is whether it could have been prevented in the first place.

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#CyberFLASH: Chinese cyberattack hits Canada’s National Research Council

A “highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor” recently managed to hack into the computer systems at Canada’s National Research Council, according to Canada’s chief information officer, Corinne Charette.

The attack was discovered by Communications Security Establishment Canada.

In a statement released Tuesday, Charette, confirmed that while the NRC’s computers operate outside those of the government of Canada as a whole, the council’s IT system has been “isolated” to ensure no other departments are compromised.

The NRC says it has already been in contact with many of its “clients and stakeholders,” but it could take as long as a year to secure the system.

Read more on CBC


#CyberFLASH: How Chinese hacking felled telecommunication giant Nortel


Cyber security adviser Brian Shields sensed something was wrong when he received a message from his manager at North American telecommunications giant Nortel.

An employee in the United Kingdom office had detected that a senior executive in Canada, Brian McFadden, had downloaded the Brit’s work documents from the company server.

It was odd, because the documents were irrelevant to McFadden’s responsibilities. The British employee sent an email to McFadden asking why he wanted the documents.

An email shot back from McFadden: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

As Nortel’s senior adviser for systems security, Shields was called in to investigate. “When I first started looking into it I found that the access was not internal,” says Shields.

“The documents downloaded to the executive’s computer in Ottawa were done through remote access from a site over in China.”

Shields quickly realised that Nortel, at the time one of the world’s biggest ­commercial telecommunications equipment manufacturers, had been the victim of hacking. He traced most of the activity back to Shanghai. It was early 2004.

Upon further investigation, Shields discovered that seven staff accounts had been compromised via remote access.

One of the breached accounts belonged to the company’s then chief executive Frank Dunn.

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#CyberFLASH: Canada – China’s Lenovo raises security fears with possible bid for BlackBerry


Lenovo Group Ltd. is joining the list of suitors considering a bid for BlackBerry Ltd., raising concerns that the Canadian company’s ultra-secure communications network for the global elite might end up owned by a firm based in China.

BlackBerry provides mobile phones and an encrypted wireless network to many of the world’s largest corporations and most Western governments, including top officials in the United States and the country’s military – and would likely draw scrutiny in Washington and Ottawa.

If Lenovo’s reported interest resulted in a deal, the takeover attempt would be subject to a tough regulatory review in Canada. The federal government has killed several foreign takeovers under the Investment Canada Act.

That act permits reviews of deals worth more than $344-million. The government has also granted itself broader powers to halt takeovers of Canadian firms by foreign state-owned companies, particularly those from China. And Ottawa recently barred a bid for Winnipeg-based telecom company MTS Allstream by an Egyptian-led group on national security grounds.

“If the Egyptian company raised some red flags for the Canadian government, we should have red fireworks going off if a Chinese company wants to buy BlackBerry,” said Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former head of Asia-Pacific at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and chief executive of the Northgate Group, an Ottawa-based cyber-security firm. “BlackBerry is the prime phone used by all government officials and top officials… For that reason alone, it shall not and could not be sold to a foreign entity that is not within the realm of [our] close network of friends.”

Read more on Globe and Mail 

#CyberFLASH: Canada – Canadian Ministers And Chinese Defence Chief Have Hush-Hush Meeting


OTTAWA – China’s defence minister made an unheralded stop in Canada last week, meeting with two Harper government ministers amid rising tensions over the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Another issue of importance has been the increased use of cyberattacks on western commercial, industrial and government targets. Last winter, a U.S.-based cybersecurity firm, Mandiant, accused a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai of mounting hundreds of online attacks against American companies.

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