Canada on Tuesday took the unusual step of singling out Chinese hackers
for attacking a key computer network and lodged a protest with Beijing,
raising tensions at a time when Ottawa wants to boost oil sales to
Officials said "a highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored
actor" had recently broken into the National Research Council. The
council, the government's leading research body, works with major
companies such as aircraft and train maker Bombardier Inc.
Canada has reported hacking incidents before, but this was the first time it had singled out China.
is often cited as a suspect in various hacking attacks on companies in
the United States and other countries. Beijing dismissed the allegation
Foreign Minister John Baird had "a full and frank
exchange of views" about the case with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
during a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, a spokesman for Baird said.
government takes this issue very seriously, and we are addressing it at
the highest levels in both Beijing and Ottawa," said spokesman Adam
Corinne Charette, Canada's chief government information
officer, said that although research council computers did not operate
within the overall government system, they had been isolated as a
"We have no evidence that data compromises have occurred on the broader government of Canada network," she said in a statement.
Separately, the council said it was working to set up a new secure network, which could take as long a year to build.
Yang Yundong, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, said Beijing was not involved in cyber-attacks.
is neither professional nor responsible to make groundless speculations
and accusations on cyber-attacks for various purposes," he said.
Canada's right-leaning Conservative government has had an uneven relationship with Beijing since taking power in 2006.
human rights concerns, Prime Minister Stephen Harper initially kept his
distance. Under pressure from business in Canada, he reached out to
Harper visited three Chinese cities in early 2012 and
promised to help increase oil exports, citing the need to find new
markets. The United States buys virtually all Canada's crude.
The research council attack was not the first hacking attempt in Canada that has been linked to China.
2011, hackers broke into computer systems at the finance ministry and
other government departments. The Conservatives denied to comment on
allegations that China was responsible.
In 2012, Canada said it
was aware hackers had breached security at a domestic manufacturer of
software used by energy companies but again declined to say whether it
felt China lay behind the attacks.
The latest annual report from
the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spy agency devotes a section
to cyber security but does not mention China. Neither does Canada's
official cyber security strategy.
Other nations have been less
shy. The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a Chinese businessman
with hacking into the computer systems of Boeing and other companies.
© Thomson Reuters 2014