The CBC News from Canada now reports that the cyber attack that happened to Canadian government computers last year was aimed at stealing insider information regarding the attempted takeover bid of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.
A cyber crime expert was hired to investigate attacks, which hit government computers as well as seven law firms. According to Daniel Tobok, the cyber crime expert who investigated the attacks, the hacking spree was designed as decoys, meant to distract anyone tracing the activity of their real goal, which was to steal information about BHP Billiton’s unsuccessful $38 billion bid for Potash Corp. in 2010.
Tobok’s organization has former Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Toronto police on its staff could not say for sure whether any sensitive information actually ended up in the hacker’s hands.
“They did go in, they did search for certain information, and one can assume that whatever they saw, it’s in their possession,” Tobok told The Globe and Mail.
Two of the targeted law firms — Stikeman Elliott, and Blake, Cassels & Graydon — told CBC News that they are not aware of any compromise of client information “as a result of any attempt to breach our systems.”
Tobok estimates more than 100 hackers had to have been involved in the cyber attacks — suggesting it was state-sponsored.
He says the hacking methods used were so sophisticated the intruders almost completely erased their tracks after the attacks.
Although it isn’t clear why the hackers were after the information, China was reportedly against the takeover bid. However, the Chinese government has denied any involvement in the hacking attempt. Although the computers used to do the hacking were located in China, computer experts say the hackers weren’t necessarily based there.