Rebuild of National Research Council systems years late: documents

OTTAWA -- Canada's top scientific agency will be waiting at least two more years for a new computer system to replace the one hackers infiltrated in the summer of 2014 -- and some researchers will have to rely on the old one in the meantime, documents show.

See Full Article

The National Research Council was forced to shut down its computer network in July 2014 after hackers repeatedly made it into systems that house sensitive research, trade secrets and personal information.

Government officials publicly blamed the attack on a highly sophisticated, Chinese state-sponsored player. China strenuously denied what they described as a baseless charge from Canadian officials.

The ensuing 12 months were supposed to have seen a $32.5-million refit of the council's networks, including a rebuilt system and new laptops for council workers as part of the technological upgrade.

The new laptops are in place, as are most enhanced security controls.

In an emailed statement, NRC spokesman Charles Drouin said a "modest investment" in the old system has been the biggest measure taken to get the council back to its usual productivity levels.

Most of the research network has been built, with the last components to be put in place by April, Drouin wrote.

"As with all networks, there will be a stabilization period were the network is fine-tuned for NRC's varied needs," the statement said. "NRC has already resumed its regular business activities to support clients and stakeholders in a secure manner."

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act suggest that the entire process has proven to be a far more complicated project than was first envisioned.

A June 30 presentation on the project showed that rather than being done by July 2015, a new system wouldn't be fully ready until July 2018.

Even that timeline was tough to meet because of "resourcing gaps" with timelines that were "already slipping," one slide reads.

The presentation says Shared Services Canada, the government's information technology department, had hoped to have the research council back to "full business productivity" by the end of 2015.

In the meantime, some of the country's top researchers were being forced to work on the "compromised legacy system" as well as the new, more secure system as it was being built.

Keeping the system running just below full capacity was only possible through the "extreme efforts of staff" who were finding "unsustainable" work-arounds. Come summer, those efforts were "deteriorating," and labelled in the presentation as "unsustainable, not secure, costly, and growth-prohibitive."

What ensued was "growing client frustration," the storage of important research data in digital spaces that were "inaccessible and not secure," and an "immeasurable loss of innovation" as researchers were "directed away from new opportunities."

Getting back to "full business productivity" would be a major milestone for workers overseeing the project, allowing them to move the research council's files and programs --some of which are used by small groups of niche researchers -- to the new system "at a pace and at a cost that is achievable."

The cost to the research council was pegged at $20 million "and growing substantially" as work-arounds failed. The cost of ongoing delays were calculated at $800,000 per week, but the documents don't detail those calculations.

Details of the "resourcing and funding gaps" in the project have been blacked out from the documents because they are considered sensitive advice to government officials.

No one from Shared Services Canada or the National Research Council was made available for interviews about progress on the project.


Latest Canada & World News

  • North Korean media say diplomacy is strength, not weakness

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO -- North Korea's recent moves to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula are evidence of its confidence and national strength, not a sign of weakness, according to its state-run media. The attack against criticism of its diplomatic efforts is surprising because North Korea's media have yet to report virtually any of the activity. Source
  • Sidewalk Labs 'hadn't foreseen' data concerns in designing Toronto neighbourhood

    Canada News CBC News
    Sidewalk Labs "hadn't foreseen" how fiercely Canadians would demand that their data be retained within the country when it first sought out to design a "people first" high-tech neighbourhood in east Toronto, says one of the local leaders working with the start-up, which is owned by Google's parent company Alphabet. Source
  • Israeli military confirms it hit Syrian nuclear site in 2007

    World News CTV News
    TEL AVIV, Israel -- The Israeli military confirmed Wednesday it carried out the 2007 airstrike in Syria that destroyed what was believed to be a nuclear reactor, lifting the veil of secrecy over one of its most daring and mysterious operations in recent memory. Source
  • MMIW: Manitoba family says woman's death never fully investigated

    Canada News CTV News
    The family of a young Manitoba woman who died outside her home has taken their story to the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, to raise concerns that her death was never properly investigated. Source
  • From DMZ to ship at sea, Trump-Kim summit site rumours swirl

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO -- With just weeks to go, there's still no official word on where U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will hold their unprecedented summit. Will they pick an obvious place like one of their own capitals, or something off the wall, like a ship at sea? Or a place so obscure the curious will be sent frantically searching Google Earth? Source
  • Austin, Texas, authorities report another explosion

    World News CBC News
    Austin, Texas, authorities say emergency personnel are responding to another reported explosion, this one at a Goodwill store in the southern part of the city. Austin-Travis County emergency services tweeted Thursday evening that at least one person was injured but that details about the severity of those injuries and the explosion itself were unknown. Source
  • Latest blast not linked to package bombs, Austin police say

    World News CBC News
    Police and federal authorities say the latest explosion to hit Austin was caused by an "incendiary device" and is not related to the series of bombs that has rocked Texas' capital city. The Austin Police Department and the U.S. Source
  • Trump warns of dire consequences if Democrats win 2018 midterm elections

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump says Republicans are "going to win" in this year's midterm elections -- and warns of dire consequences if they don't. Trump made the prediction Tuesday during rah-rah remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual March fundraiser. Source
  • Mueller should be allowed to 'finish his job,' McConnell says

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday expressed confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller and said he should be allowed to "finish his job," the Senate leader's first response to President Donald Trump's recent outburst of criticism of Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Source
  • Smoke-filled WestJet plane undergoes emergency evacuation in Nanaimo, B.C.

    Canada News CBC News
    A WestJet flight from Vancouver to Nanaimo declared an emergency after smoke filled the cabin and flight deck on its approach to the Nanaimo airport Tuesday. Passenger Robin Thacker was sitting in row 17 near the back of the Bombardier Q400 twin turboprop. Source