Canada bureaus still troubled by Chinese breach

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Months after hackers invaded the computer systems of at least three federal government institutions employees are still feeling the effects.

In mid-April, an estimated 320,000 civil servants had lost their access to the online pay system that provides information about overtime, bonuses, travel expense reimbursements and other financial data. The system was taken offline on April 4, when officials discovered that the privacy of eight account holders had been compromised. It was back up on April 27.

Pay continued to be deposited directly into employees' bank accounts.

While officials at Public Works and Governments Services Canada (PWGSC), which administers the Compensation Web Application, maintained that the fault was “due to the manual processes involved,” speculation continues that the privacy breach is related to the Chinese-based cyberattack discovered in January. On Feb. 17, the president of Canada's Treasury Board – the branch of government responsible for fiscal control and human resources – confirmed rumors that a massive attack had targeted his department and the Department of Finance. Later reports by CBC News revealed that hackers had also hit Defence Research & Development, a civilian agency of the Department of National Defence.

In 2010, Canada's auditor general reported that an internal risk assessment had concluded that PWGSC's pay and pension systems were in danger of “imminent collapse.”

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