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Delta police working with Europol on ‘significant’ cybercrime investigation

DPD officer part of international organized crime working group meeting in Netherlands this month
(Delta Police Department photo)

A Delta Police Department cybercrimes officer will be travelling to Europe this month as part of the investigation into a local ransomware attack earlier this year.

According to a DPD press release, it’s unusual for a local officer to travel overseas for an investigation, however the department has been an enormous surge in this type of crime in the past two years.

As a result, 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,” cybercrime investigator Const. Dustin Classen said in a press release. “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 company was able to restore their network from backups and co-operated with police, providing them with copies of malware and other data used to investigate the offence.

SEE ALSO: Take steps to fend off ransomware attacks, federal ministers urge Canadians

Classen shared this information internationally with other law enforcement including Europol, the 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 cases.

Classen then joined an international working group as the lead Canadian investigator. The organized crime group they are investigating has had significant impact, and is suspected in the theft of millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies.

This month, 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 Const. Classen and the DPD to help build capacity, skills, and also form links and expand partnerships with international policing agencies,” Insp. Heath Newton, who heads up the DPD’s investigative services section, said in a press release. “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 co-ordinate a prosecutorial strategy.

The release notes Classen will be adhering to all COVID-19 requirements during his trip, and that the RCMP’s National Cybercrime Coordination Unit (NC3) is responsible for Canadian expenditures to attend this gathering of international partners looking at cybercrime trends.

SEE ALSO: COLUMN: Cyber attacks are devastating, but preventable

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