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article imageJust why did Canadian Government agencies go offline? Special

By Tim Sandle     Sep 8, 2020 in Technology
During mid-August 2020 many Canadian government services went offline. It has come to light that this was due to a cyberattack. Further evidence suggests the Canadian authorities are a regular target for rogue actors.
The reason for the Canadian services being inaccessible across an entire weekend in mid-August was the consequence of a cyberattack directed at two dozen Canadian government platforms. The spate of attacks forced the shutdown of most of its online portals for up to 48 hours.
As well as taking services down, 9,000 GCKey accounts were breached, according to CBC news. This was in a coordinated credential stuffing attack to steal Canadian citizens' COVID-19 relief payments. For some background, GCKey is a SSO tool used by over 30 Canadian federal departments to provide access to immigration, taxes, pension and benefits services, including access to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) systems.
Overall, some 5,500 Canada Revenue Agency accounts were targeted in this and another attack. The governmental investigation remains on-going.
According to Cath Goulding, Chief Information Security Office, Nomient Canadian Government agencies are being targeted extensively by cyber criminals.
Goulding tells Digital Journal that the types of attacks directed at governmental websites are not especially sophisticated. Yet, low level threats work because of weak defenses.
Goulding says: "The vast majority of cyber attacks that are faced by governments and organisations are not sophisticated, leveraging straightforward techniques that require minimal effort on behalf of the hacker. What’s more, these simple attacks can be the crucial foothold for an attacker to launch other more damaging attacks."
The analyst outlines the best remediation for the Canadian austerities to take is in the form of "Strong cyber hygiene: a breadth of security across all departments that can quickly identify and mitigate the most frequent forms of attack."
Goulding adds: "It’s also important that governments pool intelligence and ensure those smaller public institutions can benefit from a scale of know-how and defence that they would find difficult to match operating independently.”
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