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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are asking for help locating Izabel Villeneuve, 14, who was last seen Jan. 19. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police seek help locating missing 14-year-old

Izabel Villeneuve was last seen in the morning of Jan. 19

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Vancouver Island this weekend

Snow on Malahat to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Jan. 21 marks the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, according to some. (Black Press Media file photo)
The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century is upon us – maybe

Milestone won’t be back for another 100 years

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm, the company’s final B.C. operation to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is questioning a government decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)
Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

Letter to prime minister calls for federal “champion” for aquaculture growth

Most Read