A person works on a laptop in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017 file photo. A leading cybersecurity analyst tells MPs that foreign hackers have targeted Canadian banks, mining companies and government institutions in recent years to steal valuable secrets and spread malware. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elise Amendola

Hackers targeting Canadian banks, mining companies

A number of Canadian financial organizations appeared prominently on the ultimate target list

Foreign hackers have targeted Canadian banks, mining companies and government institutions in recent years to steal valuable secrets and spread malware, a leading cybersecurity analyst warns.

In February 2017, multiple major Canadian financial institutions were exposed to the risk of state-sponsored cybertheft from North Korea in a scheme to redirect people to malicious downloads that would seize control of their computer, says Christopher Porter, chief intelligence strategist at California-based security firm FireEye.

A number of Canadian financial organizations appeared prominently on the ultimate target list, he told the House of Commons committee on public safety and national security.

At least a half-dozen organized-crime groups conduct financial crime operations targeting companies and people in Canada with a sophistication once seen only among nation-states, Porter said Wednesday.

FireEye routinely uncovers major underground sites selling thousands of stolen Canadian credit cards at a time, sometimes from major banks, but also targeting customer accounts at smaller banks and credit unions, he added.

FireEye, which works with Canadian military and public-safety institutions, says Canada is often one of the first nations targeted for new types of cyberoperations due to its financial wealth, high-tech development and membership in NATO.

One group in particular, which the firm calls FIN10, has focused specifically on Canada since 2013, carrying out numerous intrusion operations against gambling and mining organizations, pilfering business data and extorting victims, Porter said.

“The cyberespionage threat to Canada is moderate, but could be on the rise,” he said. “We have observed 10 separate espionage groups from China, Russia and Iran targeting Canada in recent years.”

READ MORE: Ottawa moves to clamp down on potential meddling in next federal election

Organizations in the government, defence, high-tech, non-profit, transportation, energy, telecommunications, education, and media sectors, among others, have all been affected — much like they have in many Western countries, he said.

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security warned in its recent annual report that the biggest online threat Canadians face is cybercrime including theft, fraud and extortion.

It also said foreign countries are very likely to try to advance their agendas in 2019 — a general election year — by manipulating Canadian opinion with malicious online activity.

Porter told MPs it is important to provide people running for office with cyberthreat intelligence to ensure they are aware of possible risks.

However, such efforts to twist public opinion or compromise candidates are not limited to the cybersphere.

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians said this week it would examine the threat to national security from foreign interference and the measures in place to counter it.

“Canada, like most other western democracies, is vulnerable to foreign actors seeking to illegitimately influence or interfere in our political and economic processes,” the committee said.

READ MORE: China tells US to stop ‘unreasonable crackdown’ on Huawei

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

ELECTION DAY: Lacombe-Ponoka heads to the polls

Voters came out to the Lacombe Memorial Centre to pick the next MLA of Lacombe-Ponoka

Alberta’s Notley talks pipelines, energy on last day of election campaign

Noteley toured a pipe fabrication yard in Calgary, a key battleground in Tuesday’s election

Lacombe-Ponoka preps for Alberta Election

Over 1,000 vote in riding’s advance polls; Tuesday polls open 8 a.m. -

ELECTION DAY: Lacombe-Ponoka heads to the polls

Voters came out to the Lacombe Memorial Centre to pick the next MLA of Lacombe-Ponoka

Precautionary evacuation for Red Deer, Alta., residents due to industrial fire

City officials are advising people to close windows and doors and to turn off air intakes into homes

Study links preschool screen time to behavioural and attention problems

The research looked at more than 2,400 families

Could a pharmacist’s consultation help more people get vaccinated?

Canadian study suggests giving pharmacists a monetary incentive to consult would cut influenza cases

Red Deer RCMP arrest man wanted on murder warrant

Quentin Strawberry was arrested last night on an outstanding warrant

Bowman proud of his time at Ponoka Elementary

PES principal is moving on after end of school year

Ponoka teacher awarded Citizen of the Year award

Humanitarian efforts see Sylvan Lake native recognized for long-term contributions

Scam watch: Better Business Bureau says wait to donate to Notre Dame rebuild

Bureau says scammers take advantage of whatever is in the news

Ponoka County sending objection letter to NRCB

Letter will state support for position of landowner near new CFO application

Most Read