The agency that oversees cybersecurity for the federal government says it’s aware of reports that hackers have knocked some government websites offline — just as Canada hosts Ukraine’s prime minister.

The Prime Minister Office’s website hasn’t been loading Tuesday morning. The Senate’s website experienced issues Monday.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal is visiting Toronto. The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) says it’s not uncommon to see attacks against countries hosting Ukrainian officials.

A pro-Russian hacking group has taken credit for both attacks. 

“While these incidents draw attention, they have very little impact on the systems affected,” Robyn Hawco, a spokesperson for the Communications Security Establishment, said in an email.

“CSE and its Canadian Centre for Cyber Security have observed that it’s not uncommon to see distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against countries hosting visits from Ukrainian government officials.”

Hawco said the Canadian government, “like every other government and private sector organization in the world,” is a target for persistent cyberthreats and is working with other departments “to ensure there are systems and tools in place to monitor, detect and investigate potential threats, and to neutralize threats when they occur.”

CSE warned of retaliation by Russia-aligned hackers

Earlier this year, the agency called for a “heightened state of vigilance” against the threat of retaliatory cyber attacks by Russia-aligned hackers.

That warning came just hours after Ottawa promised to give Ukraine four Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks, and after another Russia-aligned cybercrime group vowed to go after countries that support Ukraine in the ongoing war.

Germany recently experienced its own DDoS attack by hackers targeting government sites and airports.

That country’s security agency, BSI, said some financial sector targets were also affected but the hits had little effect.

Nancy Faeser, the German interior minister, warned that her country faces a “massive danger” from Russian sabotage. 

“The cybersecurity concerns have been exacerbated by the war,” she said in February. “The attacks of pro-Russia hackers have increased.”

Moscow denied carrying out that hacking operation.

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