Intelligence experts not surprised by recent cyberattacks

Click to play video: 'Hydro-Québec site restored following cyberattacks but Canadian websites remain a target'
Hydro-Québec site restored following cyberattacks but Canadian websites remain a target
WATCH: The cyber-attack that shut down access to Hydro-Québec's website on Thursday is just the latest among an onslaught of online attempts to disrupt Canadian businesses. The blocked web page comes on the heels of a report warning that these type of cyber-attacks are on the rise, often originating from foreign countries. Global's Tim Sargeant reports. – Apr 14, 2023

Hydro-Québec, the ports of Montreal and Quebec City and the prime minister’s home web page have all recently had their websites attacked.

A pro-Russian organization has claimed responsibility for the cyberattack on Hydro-Québec’s web page that forced it offline for most of the day on April 13.

Intelligence experts aren’t surprised by the increase in online attacks blocking the websites of Canadian politicians and corporations, especially as Canada continues to strongly support Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia.

“I think that one of the things that these attacks are showing is intent on the part of hostile actors such as the Russian Federation, such as organizations that work in support of Putin’s regime,” Artur Wilczynski, a former intelligence director general at Canada’s cybersecurity agency, told Global News.

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He says while denying access to websites may seem benign, the attacks remain a serious threat to Canadians. Wilczynski says the online assaults could become more aggressive, blocking a physician’s access to a patient’s medical record, for instance, or shutting down a mass transit system.

“It’s a question of their operations and it’s a question of Canadians’ confidence in the security of the things that they count on for their day-to-day lives,” he said.

A report published by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security last year warns of cyberattacks in 2023 and 2024.

“The state-sponsored cyber programs of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea continue to pose the greatest strategic cyber threat to Canada,” Sami Khoury wrote. “Critical infrastructure is still a prime target for both cybercriminals and state-sponsored actors alike.”

One cybersecurity expert says the source of the attacks needs to be identified, as proxy organizations often act on behalf of hostile governments.

“You can hire a cyber criminal to, say, go attack this company, and he will take care of setting up all the affected computers to go and attack that machine,” Terry Cutler, a cybersecurity expert at Cyology Labs, told Global News.

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That forces Canadians be on heightened alert as cyberattacks become more menacing.

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