Ontario transit agency ‘extremely confident’ cyber attack came from North Korea


Infosec mavens are questioning why somebody in North Korea planted malware on a pc device run via Metrolinx, the provincially run Toronto suburban transit authority.

Anne Marie Aikins, senior media supervisor of the rail and bus community that hyperlinks the suburbs to Ontario’s largest town, showed in an interview Tuesday that its infosec hacking workforce, operating with provincial penetration mavens, came upon the intrusion a couple of week in the past.

The company’s firewall was once breached and malware was once left on a device, she mentioned, however “at no time was once buyer non-public knowledge compromised, nor have been any of our protection techniques.”

Whilst attribution of cyber assaults can also be tricky, she mentioned the company is “extraordinarily assured” this assault got here from North Korea after being routed thru Russia.

Aikins wouldn’t element how the protection team of workers discovered proof of the intrusion. However she did say the company has a workforce of ‘moral hackers’ — some name this a purple workforce — that works along side Ontario executive infosec mavens that check Metrolinx’s device. They discovered the unspecified malware. Different cyber businesses, which she refused to spot, helped within the reaction, she added.

A community intrusion at Metrolinx is nearly extraordinary. “I’m now not positive if I’ve ever been conscious about a breach,” Aikins mentioned, within the six years she’s been with the company.

In line with its closing annual record, for the 2015-2016 fiscal 12 months Metrolinx’s community treated about 73 million rides. It has an annual price range of about $814 million.

A international hacker will have numerous motives for this assault: Seeking to not directly penetrate a central authority community, monetary robbery or simply mischief. Mavens were writing for years about North Korea’s cyber functions, mentioning assaults on South Korea’s infrastructure. Many — however now not all –characteristic the 2014 cyber assault on Sony to North Korea as a protest over the film “The Interview.” North Korea has denied duty.

Ray Boisvert, Ontario’s safety consultant and a former assistant director of intelligence on the Canadian Safety Intelligence Carrier (CSIS), has lengthy warned concerning the ctber functions of country states. At an ITAC seminar in December, he mentioned there are 100 international locations that may “ship APTs (complex power threats) and live to tell the tale your community and do anything else they need.”

At last year’s SecTor conference in Toronto an impartial researcher advised an target market of numerous North Korean teams believed to be in the back of some assaults.  In October FireEye said its detected and stopped spear phishing emails despatched weeks previous to U.S. electrical corporations “via identified cyber risk actors most probably affiliated with the North Korean executive.”

In an opinion piece for Reuters written closing month, Donghui Park is a Ph.D. candidate on the College of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson Faculty of World Research and Jessica Beyer, the cybersecurity postdoctoral fellow on the college, argued that “North Korea has persistently used cyber assaults as a distraction from its nuclear program,” in particular focused on South Korea.

One function of global penetration makes an attempt, they mentioned, is to let international locations know of its functions to perhaps acquire leverage in any negotiations about its nuclear program.

Park and Byer imagine cash-strapped North Korea, beneath global sanctions — together with from Canada — is most probably investment its nuclear program thru ransomware and cyber assaults, together with robbery of cryptocurrency.

Canada isn’t a big participant within the diplomatic offensive towards North Korea, which is led via america. On the other hand, closing week it co-hosted — with the U.S. — a gathering of 20 international locations to “display international harmony against North Korea’s unlawful and perilous movements,” particularly construction nuclear missile capacity. “As North Korea feels the have an effect on of sanctions, it is going to grow to be extra reliant on state-sponsored criminality, together with thru cyber operations, to assist fund its WMD (wepons of mass destruction) methods,” their joint statement said. “North Korean cyber-attacks and different malicious cyber actions pose a chance to crucial infrastructure in international locations around the globe and to the worldwide financial system.”

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Updated: January 24, 2018 — 1:15 pm
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