#CyberFLASH: Federal departments faced serious cyber security breaches last year

Digital Life Tech Tips Double Layer PasswordsFederal departments faced serious cyber-security breaches months before a high-profile hack forced the shutdown of systems at one of the country’s most important research organizations.

Documents obtained by the Citizen show that even before hackers were found in July to have broken into the National Research Council’s network, federal systems may have been compromised multiple times – in some cases so badly that the affected departments couldn’t rebound without the help of Shared Services Canada, the government’s super-IT department.

The documents obtained by the Citizen under the access to information law don’t make it clear how significant the breaches were, nor how successful the hackers were in each attack.

What the documents do show is that the security incident response team, known as IT-SIRT for short, was involved in a number of “potentially critical or extensive compromises” between January and March of 2014, according to an undated briefing note sent to the president of Shared Services Canada. The actual number of incidents has been redacted from the document, with the department citing security concerns for not releasing the information.

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#CyberFLASH: Act now to protect government departments from cyberattacks

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Federal bureaucrats are once again warning that Canada’s government departments and agencies are vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Internal documents obtained by the Star’s Alex Boutilier this past week reveal a number of issues that put Canada at risk.

They include an IT “incident management plan” that is too complex and unclear on who is responsible for what. A lack of co-ordination between that plan and Ottawa’s overall Federal Emergency Response Plan. And a number of departments and agencies failing to use the government’s secure network.

That last point is particularly troubling after Canada accused China last week of carrying out a cyberattack on the National Research Council of Canada. The NRC had reportedly resisted joining the government’s secure Shared Services network, preferring its own.

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Federal agency launches massive project to consolidate sprawling email systems

OTTAWA – A federal agency has launched the next phase of a massive project to consolidate hundreds of thousands of government email accounts under one umbrella.

The initiative will begin to herd some 640,000 email boxes, spread across hundreds of servers, in a bid to rationalize a balkanized system that’s inefficient, costly and vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Shared Services Canada, a giant agency created last year to bring order to the federal government’s sprawling IT empire, has sent out an industry notice asking for the qualifications of interested firms.

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