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

Island fossil makes it to the top of the provincial list

Courtenay’s elasmosaur will be added to the official Provincial Symbols of British Columbia

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Victoria will be B.C.’s first city with GPS tracking, digital fare on transit buses

Two major technology uprades are underway on buses across the province

Victoria hotel trashes Channing Tatum in favour of B.C.’s Ryan Reynolds

Tatum’s picture left in recycling bin, replaced with photo of Ryan Reynolds

Jeep bursts into flames on highway near Nanoose Bay

Emergency crews responded to blaze at approximately 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday

VIDEO: The Art of Surfboard Making

Hand-made, handpainted surfboard by Parksville couple

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

Vancouver Island boys high school basketball bragging rights on the line

Oak Bay, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Victoria host Island championships this weekend

Victoria to lose $6 million in funding for new Crystal Pool

No extension for March 31 gas tax grant deadline

One arrested, weapons, drugs, and stolen property seized in Sooke bust

During the Feb. 6 raid, police found firearms, ammunition, drugs, and brass knuckles

Three Island First Nations chiefs take government to court in health care dispute

Move comes after First Nations Health Authority dumps Vancouver Island service provider

Most Read