Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he won’t be deterred by the pro-Russian hackers who are taking credit for taking his office’s website offline.
For a few hours Tuesday, the PMO’s site wasn’t loading. The Senate’s website experienced issues of its own Monday.
A pro-Russian hacking group has taken credit for both attacks as Canada hosts a visit by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
“It’s not uncommon for Russian hackers to target countries as they are showing their steadfast support for Ukraine … so the timing isn’t surprising,” Trudeau said during a joint news conference with Shmyhal.
“But in case anyone was wondering, Russia being able to bring down an official government of Canada web page for a few hours is in no way going to dissuade us from our unshakable support of Ukraine.”
The agency that oversees cybersecurity for the federal government says it’s investigating, but downplayed the severity of the attack.
“While these incidents draw attention, they have very little impact on the systems affected,” Robyn Hawco, a spokesperson for the Communications Security Establishment, said in an email.
“CSE and its Canadian Centre for Cyber Security have observed that it’s not uncommon to see distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against countries hosting visits from Ukrainian government officials.”
Hawco said the Canadian government, “like every other government and private sector organization in the world,” is a target for persistent cyberthreats and is working with other departments “to ensure there are systems and tools in place to monitor, detect and investigate potential threats, and to neutralize threats when they occur.”
CSE warned of retaliation by Russia-aligned hackers
Earlier this year, the agency called for a “heightened state of vigilance” against the threat of retaliatory cyber attacks by Russia-aligned hackers.
That warning came just hours after Ottawa promised to give Ukraine four Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks, and after another Russia-aligned cybercrime group vowed to go after countries that support Ukraine in the ongoing war.
Germany recently experienced its own DDoS attack by hackers targeting government sites and airports.
That country’s security agency, BSI, said some financial sector targets were also affected but the hits had little effect.
Nancy Faeser, the German interior minister, warned that her country faces a “massive danger” from Russian sabotage.
“The cybersecurity concerns have been exacerbated by the war,” she said in February. “The attacks of pro-Russia hackers have increased.”
Moscow denied carrying out that hacking operation.