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Cyber Attacks On Canadian Firms Could Be Coming From China

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OTTAWA (Reuters) - 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.

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, 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. KrebsOnSecurity.com cited experts who said digital fingerprints left during the attack pointed to Chinese hackers.

Some Conservative legislators are wary of the proposed CNOOC takeover, in part because of what they say are China's unfair business practices.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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