* Hackers broke into software firm, targeted energy company
* Canada deciding whether to approve big China takeover bid
* Canada legislator wants probe of bid to buy Nexen
* Canada spy agency concerned about industrial espionage
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA, Sept 28 Canada said on Friday it was
aware of an attempt by hackers to target a domestic energy
company, the second time in 24 hours Ottawa had acknowledged a
cyber security attack against a Canadian firm.
In both cases the Canadian government declined to comment on
reports which suggested a Chinese connection.
The news comes at an awkward time for Canada's Conservative
government, which is deciding whether to approve a landmark
$15.1 billion bid by China's CNOOC Ltd to take over
Canadian oil producer Nexen Inc.
Some Conservative legislators are wary of the proposed CNOOC
takeover, in part because of what they say are China's unfair
Ottawa revealed the second case after being asked about a
security report from computer manufacturer Dell Inc,
which said it had tracked hackers who targeted a number of firms
around the world, including an unnamed energy company in Canada.
Dell said on its website that the hackers had used a Chinese
service provider based in Beijing Province.
"The Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre is aware of
this incident," said Jean-Paul Duval, a spokesman for Canada's
public safety ministry. Dell did not name the firm and Duval
declined to comment further.
Less than 24 hours earlier Duval said Canada knew hackers
had breached security at a domestic manufacturer of software
used by big energy companies.
Calgary-based Telvent Canada Ltd, which is owned by France's
Schneider Electric SA, warned customers about the
attack, which hit operations in the United States, Canada and
Spain, the cyber security news site KrebsOnSecurity.com reported
on Wednesday. It cited experts who said digital fingerprints
left during the attack pointed to Chinese hackers.
China is often cited as a suspect in various hacking attacks
on companies in the United States and other nations. Beijing
dismisses allegations it is involved.
The U.S. Cyber Command's top intelligence officer accused
China on Thursday of persistent efforts to pierce Pentagon
Candice Bergen, an aide to Canadian Public Safety Minister
Vic Toews, did not directly address the Telvent incident when
asked about it in Parliament.
The opposition New Democratic Party said the Conservatives
needed to pay more attention to security concerns when looking
at foreign takeover bids.
"Cyber security is something we have to pay attention to and
that ... includes how deals are set up and trade deals are set
up and acquisitions are made," said legislator Paul Dewar, the
party's foreign affairs spokesman.
Although Industry Minister Christian Paradis is responsible
for deciding whether the CNOOC bid should be approved,
independent Conservative legislator Peter Goldring says a
parliamentary committee ought to examine it.
"One of the main priorities of this committee will be to
determine whether a foreign state-owned enterprise is an
acceptable bidder ... for taking over a Canadian corporation,"
he said in a statement.
If a committee were set up it could delay the government's
timetable for a ruling on the CNOOC deal. Paradis is expected to
announce that decision by Nov 12.
An organization that regulates U.S. electric utilities is
looking into the breach at Telvent Canada Ltd, which makes
software that energy companies use to manage production and
distribution of electricity. Telvent acknowledged a breach had
taken place but gave few details.
The government's Canadian Security Intelligence Service says
hackers try to break into government networks every day.
"Another traditional economic espionage target we often come
across is the oil and gas industry," the spy agency said in its
annual report released last week.
CSIS did not identify nations it said were responsible for
the attacks. In 2010, the head of CSIS said ministers in two of
Canada's 10 provinces were under "the general influence of a
foreign government" and made clear he was talking about China.