In an unprecedented move, Canada accused Chinese hackers of infiltrating a computer network at the National Research Council on Tuesday, although Beijing denied responsibility for the assault.
Canadian officials lodged an official complaint to Beijing that state-backed hackers penetrated the council — the government’s primary research body that works with many companies, including major manufacturing firms. “The government takes this issue very seriously, and we are addressing it at the highest levels in both Beijing and Ottawa,” said Caitlin Workman, a Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Department spokeswoman, according to Bloomberg.
Yang Yudong, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, told Reuters that the claims against Beijing were based on “groundless speculation.”
China has garnered a slew of media attention for reported cyberattacks, most recently by a New York Times report revealing that Chinese hackers broke into a U.S. government agency in March, but this is the first time that Canada has accused Beijing of hacking. Canada’s claim of the security breach also comes at a time when the country is hoping to bolster its oil sales to China.
The council’s computers are being quarantined from the rest of the government system as a precaution. “We have no evidence that data compromises have occurred on the broader government of Canada network,” Corinne Charette, Canada’s chief government information officer, said in a statement, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.