Canadian Anti-Money Laundering Reporting Systems Still Down Post-Hack

Canada recently suffered a setback fighting its reputation as a global money laundering hub. Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the country’s financial crimes intelligence agency, disclosed a cyber incident in March. Nearly two months later, the country’s financial crimes intelligence agency still hasn’t got 100% of its systems back up and running. 

Canada’s Financial Crimes Agency Suffers Hack

The agency has been fairly tight lipped about the incident, but they began dealing with it on March 2. They publicly disclosed the incident on March 3, stating they took the agency’s corporate systems offline as a security measure. The incident didn’t involve any of the agency’s intelligence or classified systems. 

On March 22, FINTRAC provided an update on a cyber security incident audit. Conducted with the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS), the country’s cyber security response unit, they stated there was no evidence information was “removed” or “lost” from the system. Carefully selected terms that don’t necessarily clarify what was accessed, or what the ongoing issue is.  

FINTRAC Still Hasn’t Got All of Its Systems Back Online

Despite the audit and rounds of “everything is fine,” not a lot has been disclosed. The suspected origin of the hack is still a mystery. That said, everything doesn’t seem to be okay, since FINTRACs systems aren’t back to 100% operational a month after the results of the audit were made public. 

On Friday, a representative confirmed three systems remain offline—Web Reporting, Batch Transmission, and Money Services Business Registration. 

The Web Reporting system is primarily used by low volume users to submit: 

  • Suspicious transaction reports; 
  • Large Cash transaction reports; 
  • Non-SWIFT transfer reports 
  • Casino disbursement reports 
  • Large virtual currency transaction reports  

The Batch Transmission Software is used for larger reporting tasks involving: 

  • Suspicious transaction reports; 
  • Large Cash transaction reports; 
  • Electronic Funds Transfer Reports 
  • Casino disbursement reports 

Reporting agencies can still use the API for directly integrated systems for Suspicious Transaction, Large Cash, and Large Virtual Currency Reports. However, some types of reports, such as Electronic Funds and Casino Disbursements, won’t have APIs until mid-June. 

“For businesses reporting through API, there are no changes or delays,” explained a FINTRAC spokesperson by email. 

Adding, “For those who are unable to report through API, FINTRAC has informed them that they must continue to identify and document all reportable transactions and be prepared to file them once systems are restored.” 

The backlog comes as the agency has seen a significant increase in reporting, and a decline in investigations. It’s so far been unclear if this is due to a rise in suspicious activity, or increased noise from policymakers requiring more agencies to report to FINTRAC. 

Few other details have been released on the attack. No suspected country of origin, alleged hacking groups, or even the software vulnerability exploited. Scarce details also make it unclear why hackers would target the corporate system of a financial agency. 

Canadian government agencies and personnel data has seen a recent uptick in targeting. In November, Canada’s privacy watchdog began an investigation on a breach involving the data of former and current members of the country’s armed forces and the RCMP, its national police force. At least some data was subsequently leaked on the dark web, according to a notice sent to RCMP employees

In February, the same watchdog also announced it was looking into a breach of users at Global Affairs, the country’s diplomatic and consular services. The RCMP was also hit again that month.

11 Comments

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  • CD 1 month ago

    Nothing to see here, except that we’re working SO HARD to fix it… *eyeroll*

    • Ian Brown 1 month ago

      Mmhm… “Don’t worry, hackers didn’t do anything” and “not all services are back up” seem like contrary positions, don’t they?

    • Brokeback 1 month ago

      Look how the feds have abandoned the registration of bare trusts among so many of the other anti money laundering schemes they’ve announced but failed to implement, and they’re not even pretending to fix any of this.

  • Omar 1 month ago

    Casino reporting system is down, eh? Conveniently right after casinos in Ontario start getting dinged, potentially revealing Ontario has the same laundering problems as BC.

    Pretty fudged up.

    • Kathy Cor 1 month ago

      What’s that about Ontario money laundering?

      • Rohi 1 month ago

        Money laundering is a ‘significant problem’ in Ontario real estate transactions. This B.C. company wants to change that

        Some $30B in dirty money has been washed through Ontario real estate over the last decade. Iluminai Intelligence says they have developed software to catch those criminals

        Updated Sept. 05, 2023 at 11:21 a.m.

  • Terrance 1 month ago

    I just spend a while realizing Canada is no longer disclosing details of its hacks, unlike the rest of the world. This is fudged up. Talk about a lack of transparency.

    • Peter 1 month ago

      Canada’s in a war, even if they won’t admit it. They don’t want Canadians, especially those in police and military, to realize they’re likely a target due to our involvement in Ukraine.

      Like with lockdowns, once law enforcement and military are opposed, they no longer have any ability to maintain the position.

  • Reindeer 1 month ago

    A laissez-faire attitude towards billions of dollars in money laundering (and tax evasion), yet the politicians want to save taxes by cutting welfare for the poor, and taxing doctors and health professionals some more. Shame!

  • Scott 1 month ago

    We are at war with the Chinese, Russian and Iranian governments. Sadly our leaders are too self absorbed to realize it.

    • CD 1 month ago

      you can’t be at war if you don’t know it 😉

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