Canada's government set back one year by devastating Chinese cyber attack

Canada's National Research Council (NRC) was hit by a sophisticated hack apparently initiating from China.

The Canadian government has said it will take it a year to build a more secure IT infrastructure after the National Research Council (NRC) was hit.

"Recently, the Government of Canada, through the work of the Communications Security Establishment, detected and confirmed a cyber intrusion on the IT infrastructure of the National Research Council of Canada," the council announced in a brief statement.

"Following assessments by NRC and its security partners, action has been taken to contain and address this security breach, including protecting its information holdings and notifying the Privacy Commissioner. NRC has also taken steps to inform its clients and stakeholders about this situation."

The Canadian government itself went further, pointing the blame firmly in Beijing.

"Recently, the Government of Canada, through the work of the Communications Security Establishment, detected and confirmed a cyber intrusion on the IT infrastructure of the National Research Council of Canada by a highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor," a spokesperson announced in a separate statement.

The Canadian government is declining to comment further at this point due to "security and confidentiality reasons", although more is expected soon, and we'll update this story as more news comes out.

China has taken its usual stance of outright denial of involvement. Yang Yundong, a Chinese embassy spokesman in Ottowa, slammed what he described as "groundless allegations".

The Chinese government has come under increasing fire for its sponsorship of hacking groups with close links to China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Earlier this week it emerged that Chinese hackers have broken into the computer systems of three Israeli defence contractors instrumental in the construction of Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system, and five hackers were indicted in the United States earlier this year for hacking into a number of high profile hacks against US companies.