P.E.I. government computer network attacked several times last year

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Despite tight security measures, the provincial government’s computer network was the victim of six attacks in one year.

Information provided by the Finance Department showed the various attacks between October 2012 and June 2013 hit public websites, workstations, government email accounts and an unauthorized wireless device.

Finance Minister Wes Sheridan said every jurisdiction has to deal with hackers trying to get into its systems.

“What I’m proud to say is our detection methodologies were there to pick them up and were able to patch them and no important information was released,” he said in an interview at the provincial legislature.

In one case involving a public website, a list of usernames and encrypted passwords were obtained but no personally identifiable information was released.

The system was patched and the compromised accounts were suspended until the clients changed their passwords.

Another website compromise was found the next day because of the investigation into the first incident and no data was released.

There were two incidents of an unspecified number of compromised email accounts that sent spam email.

Passwords for those accounts were changed immediately and the attacker’s IP address was blocked.

Malware was involved in two other incidents, including one that saw user accounts locked out while another involved an unauthorized wireless device that accessed a limited use wireless system.

No data was compromised in either case.

Sheridan said what’s important is to learn from every attack and be vigilant.

 “That’s what is so important and we have people, of course, associated with watching these sorts of attacks all the time.”

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