A Delta Police cybercrimes officer investigating a local ransomware attack will be travelling to Europe this month to advance the investigation. The National Cybercrime Coordination Unit (NC3) is responsible for Canadian expenditures to attend this gathering of international partners looking at cybercrime trends.
It’s unusual for a Delta Police officer to travel overseas for an investigation. However, there has been an enormous surge in this type of crime in the past two years. The DPD has doubled its cybercrimes team, and is investing in enhanced training for these officers.
Earlier in 2021, the computer network of a mid-sized Delta business was compromised, likely through known Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities. Months later, the network was encrypted and the company received a ransomware demand.
“Microsoft issued patches in March, but this served to put cybercriminals on notice,” says cybercrime investigator Constable Dustin Classen. “Unpatched servers remain vulnerable to unauthorized access; once access is gained, cybercriminals can install further malicious software to maintain access, copy intellectual property and in ransomware attacks, encrypt the network, making it inaccessible to the victim company unless a ransom is paid.”
In this case, the victim company was able to restore their network from backups, and cooperated with police, providing them with copies of malware and other data used to investigate the offence. Cst. Classen shared this information internationally with other law enforcement, including Europol. Europol is European Union’s law enforcement agency, focused on terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime.
That sharing of information was valuable, revealing links between the Delta file and numerous international files. Cst. Classen then joined an international working group as the Canadian lead investigator. The organized crime group has had significant impact, and is suspected in the theft of millions in cryptocurrencies.
This month Cst. Classen will be travelling to the Hague, Netherlands, to meet other Europol investigators to review the investigation to date, go over data and identify next steps.
“This is an invaluable opportunity for Cst. Classen and the DPD, to help build capacity, skills, and also form links and expand partnerships with international policing agencies,” explains Inspector Heath Newton, who heads up DPD Investigation Services. “He’ll be working with international experts in cybercrime specifically ransomware attacks, in order to provide future crime prevention tips to the public as well to discuss evidence of ongoing cybercrime investigations in Delta”
Europol has deemed an in-person meeting necessary to develop investigative strategies and coordinate a prosecutorial strategy. Cst. Classen will be adhering to all COVID-19 requirements during his trip.