Hackers launch massive cyber attack on Canadian government

Various Western gas and oil companies were compromised last week when a hacker group dubbed "Night Dragon" made off with secret information. Allegedly based out of China, the crew brazenly broke into public websites, employing rudimentary tools to accomplish its goals.

Chinese hackers are in the news again today. This time, the target was the Canadian government. And the mission was successful.

This new attack compromised the Defence Research and Development Canada department, reports CBC News. Previous attacks against high-level targets within the Canadian government included the Finance Department, Treasury Board and the Department of National Defence. The recent attack forced the former two offline altogether as the perpetrators accessed vital government information and possibly even information on Canadian citizens.

Unsurprisingly, China went on record and stated the attack was not state-sponsored. Ma Zhaoxu, a Foreign Ministry Spokesman for the country, declared, "The allegation that China supports hacking is groundless."

However, that doesn't rule out the possibility that the hackers are Chinese, or at least using China as a cyber-crime headquarters. It also doesn't mean the attack wasn't actually orchestrated by the Chinese government, which has a long history with hacking allegations.

According to a WikiLeak cable, China was directly responsible for hacking Google servers. In turn, several journalists covering China and human rights activists reported having their emails hacked. And back in 2008, Chinese operatives were accused of copying files from an American official's laptop.

Considering the quick growth and increased intensity of cyber-warfare and internet-based criminal activities, it's surprising and more than a little worrisome just how ill-equipped governments seem to be when it comes to preventing them. Then again, online attacks are often well-planned and take specific aim at weak areas. It's likely impossible to create a completely hack-proof system - even for governments.

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