The hackers were actually successful in their attempts. Canada's two major economic departments, the Finance Department and the Treasury Board, were the main victims of the attack. After hackers gained control of the computers of senior government executives in the two departments, the hackers were unable to obtain password information to unlock entire government systems. Immediately after the attack, the government shut down all Internet access in both departments in an attempt to stop any information from being stolen and transmitted to the hackers. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether or not the hackers were able to access any other governmental computer networks.
In the past month, thousands of government employees did not have Internet access as officials attempted to fix the situation. Sources say the hackers used a spear-phishing attack: they gained control of Canadian officials' government computers, posed as executives, and sent out e-mails to technical staff from the departments to trick them into releasing key passwords that give access to several government networks. The hackers also sent other employees viruses that hunted down specific classified government information. It's still unclear how much classified information was stolen.