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

Jayda Monilaws raises over $7,000 of cupcakes for Central Alberta Humane Society

This is the most the 10-year-old Red Deerian has raised so far

PHOTOS: Alberta male team takes silver in Winter Games relay speed skating

Alberta was close behind Quebec in the team relay speed skating finals

WATCH: Pet therapy brings calmness to Winter Games athletes

Canada Winter Games in Red Deer continue on until March 2nd

Jayda Monilaws is selling cupcakes again for Central Alberta Humane Society

The 10-year-old Red Deerian is selling cupcakes today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Alberta was crowned champions in Wheelchair Basketball at Canada Winter Games

Ontario won silver while Quebec took home the bronze medal

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Sylvan Lake’s Megan Cressey misses Freestyle Skiing Big Air podium

Alberta’s Jake Sandstorm captured silver in the men Freestyle Skiing Big Air contest

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read