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Cyberattacks knock Canadian spy agency offline

1/07/2015 by Sharon Shahzad

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It has been reported that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has been knocked offline by a cyberattack. This is the second time in less than two weeks that such an attack has taken place, although it has not yet been established who was behind the latest offence. It comes after several governmental sites were brought down last month as hackers took to the internet to oppose Canada’s new anti-terror bill.

On 17th June the CSIS website was subjected to an attack and taken offline, with the hacker group Anonymous claiming responsibility almost immediately as a protest against the anti-terror bill C-51 introduced by the Harper government. Tony Clement, the Treasury Board president, confirmed that the breach had been a denial of service attack. Several key governmental websites, including the central parl.gc.ca portal, were taken offline.

Speaking about the attack, Mr Clement said: “It affected email as well as other critical infrastructure and so it is more widespread than just email servers,” indicating that information technology systems managed by the government may also have been affected by the attack.

The latest breach took the CSIS website down for around three hours, which was considerably less time than the previous attack; in addition, it only affected the one website rather than disrupting service to several government sites. There is no confirmation yet on whether the second hack was as a result of weakened security from 17th June.

Anonymous posted an online video following the first cyberbreach, with a Guy Fawkes mask being worn by the narrator and the group calling upon Canadians to take action on 20th June to protest against the latest C-51 bill. A small group did protest in Halifax, with arrests made on three people. In a further video, Anonymous mentioned the Halifax arrests but did not allude to the attack that happened on 30th June. “We are outraged. Canadians are outraged, and the only way to take back our rights to take back our country,” the narrator said.

The latest attacks on the Canadian government show just how important it is to keep up with online safeguards and have the right protocol in place; in this way, when breaches occur they can be controlled and the damage minimised. For companies across the world, online breaches are becoming a top concern, with many executives looking for ways to protect their businesses. If governments are susceptible to attacks, private firms must also shore up their defences.

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