Canada must “stop making baseless accusations and redress the negative impacts” of its claims that the Chinese government is behind a cyberattack on the National Research Council, China’s foreign ministry said Thursday.
The Chinese government “consistently opposes criminal activities” aimed at sabotaging computer networks, “and has been cracking down on such activities firmly,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said in response to a reporter’s question about Canada’s claims.
“It is irresponsible for the Canadian side to make groundless accusations against China when there is no credible evidence. We are strongly opposed to that. We urge the Canadian side to correct their mistakes, stop making baseless accusations and redress the negative impacts incurred by their statement.”
The statement comes two days after the NRC confirmed a CTV News report that a “highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor” had targeted the agency’s computer systems over the last month.
NRC president John McDougall said that the “highly sophisticated” cyberattack may have compromised employees’ personal information and client data, including scientific and industrial trade secrets.
The NRC is Canada’s leading science and technology agency. It conducts research into satellites, space and industrial innovations, and genetically modified foods, among other areas.
Any information contained in the agency’s computer systems “may have been compromised,” McDougall told employees on Tuesday. Employees were told not to plug memory sticks, smartphones or tablets into their computers.
“We’re now accelerating our previously planned work to create a new, better, stronger and more secure IT infrastructure,” McDougall said.
As a precaution, the NRC’s computer networks have been isolated from the government’s IT network, the Treasury Board said.
“We have no evidence that data compromises have occurred on the broader Government of Canada network," a Treasury Board statement said Tuesday. The agency added that it could take security experts up to a year before a more secure computer system could be put in place.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who was on a three-country tour through Asia earlier this week, raised the matter with his counterpart in Beijing during “full and frank discussions,” CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported on Tuesday.
This is not the first time Chinese hackers have penetrated Canadian government computers. They have previously targeted the Finance department, the Treasury Board, the Bank of Canada, and even the email accounts of members of Parliament.
Canada must 'redress the negative impacts' of cyberattack accusations: China | CTV News (external - login to view)