Cyberattacks on Canada’s gas infrastructure left ‘no physical damage,’ Trudeau says

Click to play video: '‘No physical damage’ to Canadian energy infrastructure amid reports of cyberattacks: Trudeau'
‘No physical damage’ to Canadian energy infrastructure amid reports of cyberattacks: Trudeau
WATCH - 'No physical damage' to Canadian energy infrastructure amid reports of cyberattacks: Trudeau – Apr 11, 2023

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there was “no physical damage done” to Canadian energy infrastructure following reports of leaked U.S. intelligence suggesting Russian hackers accessed the key sector.

Over the weekend, U.S. officials briefed allies and partners, including Canada, about the potential ramifications of leaked Pentagon documents that appear to detail U.S. and NATO operations in Ukraine. U.S. officials are currently investigating the source of that leak.

The documents posted online are labelled secret and contain what appear to be details on weapons and equipment shipments to Ukraine, but they also contain apparent inaccuracies that have some questioning their authenticity, or whether they were altered, reports suggest.

The leaked documents describe claims, which Global News has yet to independently verify, by Russian-backed hackers that they successfully accessed Canada’s natural gas infrastructure.

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“In regards to the reports of cyberattacks against Canadian energy infrastructure, I can confirm that there was no physical damage to any Canadian energy infrastructure following cyberattacks,” Trudeau told reporters in Toronto on Tuesday.

A New York Times report Monday characterized the hacking incident as an example of how Russia could be expected to retaliate beyond Ukraine’s borders in the event the war continues to drag on.

The report doesn’t name a specific energy company, but says hackers were instructed by a Russian intelligence officer to maintain access to the computer network and “wait for further instruction.”

Click to play video: 'Fallout continues from leak of U.S. intel documents'
Fallout continues from leak of U.S. intel documents

The hackers were able to show they had the ability to increase valve pressure, disable alarms and trigger an emergency shutdown at an unidentified gas distribution station, the Times reported.

The Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s cyber spy agency, said Monday it does not comment, “whether to confirm or deny, on allegedly leaked intelligence,” because of the risk of revealing tactics, techniques and procedures.

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But it said it was concerned about “the opportunities for critical infrastructure disruption” on internet-connected technology in industrial processes.

“State-sponsored cyber threat actors may also target critical infrastructure to collect information through espionage; pre-position in case of future hostilities; or as a form of power projection and intimidation,” spokesperson Ryan Foreman said in a statement.

“We remain deeply concerned about this threat and urge critical infrastructure owners and operators to get in touch with us to work together to protect their systems.”

Stephanie Carvin, an associate professor of international relations at Carleton University, said the apparent leaks put Canada at risk because the Americans have likely now lost access to cyber groups targeting this country.

“That means we are potentially less safe,” she said.

“We’re heavily dependent on the U.S. for our intelligence collection, it would mean that we would no longer have access to that reporting if the U.S. is effectively cut off.”

John Kirby, White House National Security Council spokesperson, said Monday the Biden administration has been in touch with affected allies and partners at “very high levels” about the leak. He could not say if it has been fully contained.

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Click to play video: 'U.S. officials have been in touch with allies following Ukraine intel leak: White House'
U.S. officials have been in touch with allies following Ukraine intel leak: White House

A spokesperson for Canada’s public safety ministry said the department also would not comment on the leaked intelligence or its contents, but added Canada will continue to work with the rest of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, including the U.S.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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