RCMP Creates New Unit to Counter Cybercrime

25 January 2016

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is establishing a new, specialized unit to fight cybercrime attempts on the federal government and other major targets.

Supported by the nation’s new Cybercrime Strategy, released in early December, the unit’s mission will be guided by the Strategy’s three foundational pillars:

  • identifying and prioritizing cybercrime threats through intelligence collection and analysis;
  • pursuing cybercrime through targeted enforcement and investigative action;
  • and supporting cybercrime investigations with specialized skill, tools and training.
    • Pursuant to these objectives, the RCMP plans to add 40 positions, both police officers and civilians, to a new, dedicated investigations unit. It will include intelligence analysts, trainers, highly specialized technical staff and more than two dozen investigators from its national division, reports the CBC. Aiming to be fully implemented by 2020, the initiative will have a budget of $30.5 million over five years.

      The unit will pursue a 15-point action plan, also outlined in the Cybercrime Strategy. Specifically, its action items for the next five years include:

      • creating a new investigative team dedicated to combating high-priority cybercrime;
      • establishing a dedicated intelligence unit to identify new and emerging cybercrime threats;
      • improving digital forensic evidence capabilities for cybercrime investigations;
      • and expanding training opportunities for Canadian law enforcement in relation to cybercrime.

      To achieve these aggressive goals, officials recognize a fundamental shift must first take place in the way police fight crime.

      “This is not as simple as catching the car speeding down the street,” says RCMP Chief Superintendent Jeff Adam. “This is infinitely more complex and requires a whole new way of doing business.”

      The RCMP’s efforts will help modernize a police force that security experts say lags behind its U.S. and European peers when it comes to stopping digital attacks.

      Between 2011 and 2013, the number of reported cybercrimes in Canada jumped 40 percent, according to a 2014 RCMP report. Including scams for cash, credit fraud and identity theft, cyberattacks accounted for $29 million in reported annual losses in 2013.

      Cybercrime, defined by the RCMP as any offense where technology plays a substantial role, can include more than just attacks on consumer data. It ranges from online scams and bullying to large-scale theft of financial records or trade secrets, and child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, says the report. In one of the more recent attacks on Canadian assets, Chinese hackers were able to breach the systems of Ottawa’s National Research Council last year, forcing the scientific research agency to shut down its entire computer network.

      Despite the growing threat, however, police in Canada have been slow to react, says to Norm Taylor, program director of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

      “For the average police service, if an individual in the community is victimized by cybercrime and they go knocking on the door of their local police service, they’re likely going to be met with a dead stare,” says Taylor. “They just don’t have the knowledge. They don’t have the expertise.”

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