Cybersecurity and Policing in Canada

Policing Cybercrimes

 

The Government of Canada launched Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy in order to help protect Canadian citizens, critical infrastructure, businesses and Canadian governments from cyber threats in 2010. Such strategy helped set up Canada’s cyber technology knowledge and directs Canada’s dealings with regards to securing government as well as other vital systems and the protection of Canadians on the web. Read more on Police Protection: Cybersecurity for Law Enforcement

In line with the government’s efforts to make cyberspace safer for all Canadians, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Cybercrime strategy is based on both external and internal consultation and has the goal to better Canada’s national police force in it’s battle against the evolving and increasing threat of cybercrime. Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy helps to keep Canadians secure online so the RCMP Cybercrime strategy complements this.

The RCMP has a wide mandate with regards to investigating and apprehending criminals in the online space, or otherwise disrupting the activity of cybercrime. Therefore the RCMP Cybercrime Strategy is wide in stature and is reflectant on the job of cyber in numerous law enforcement domains. The vision of the RCMP Cybercrime Strategy is to decrease the threat, impact as well as the victimization of cybercrime in Canada via law enforcement action. The three pillars inside the strategy to steer the RCMP’s efforts in the battle against cybercrime are as follows:

  1. Identify and prioritize cybercrime threats through intelligence collection and analysis;
  2. Pursue cybercrime through targeted enforcement and investigative action; and,
  3. Support cybercrime investigations with specialized skills, tools and training.

 

Policing Cybercrime

With cybercrime and it’s potentially devastating consequences it is vital measures are put in place to combat it.

Previously considered the area of individuals that contain specialist skills, cybercrime has made its way to other offenders as the the requisite technical know-how becomes more accessible. Broadly available and ready-made malicious software known as malware as well as online cybercrime-for-hire services give criminals new and simplified methods for theft and the exchange of sensitive and personal data. As an outcome, criminals are always on the lookout for vulnerabilities in new technologies which may be exploited for purposes that are unlawful as well as new ways to victimize both private and public sector organizations as well as the citizens of Canada who are reliant on such technologies.

The threats of cybercrime range in impact and scope. On a personal level, the target of cybercrime may be individuals through online scams or other fraudulent methods. Devastating forms of victimization and other social costs may be due to cybercrime, for instance cyber bullying or child sexual exploitation. Threats of cybercrime are also facilitated by organized crime networks which can result in major economic loss to citizens and Canadian businesses. Commercially, such threats target financial institutions, large-scale retailers as well as other organizations to steal personal consumer data, for instance online passwords and credit card information, or to get inside knowledge on intellectual property or trade secrets. On a national security level, criminal threat actors, including state sponsored actors use covert and sophisticated cyber capabilities to carry out espionage, steal sensitive data or to potentially conduct more disruptive attacks against the critical infrastructure of Canada as well as other vital cyber systems.

Criminal exploitation of new and emerging technologies needs new policing measures to keep up in a digital era. The same technologies that organizations and individuals use for legitimate reasons may also be utilized by criminals in order to hide their online activity and to evade detection from law enforcement. Technical solutions are often sought after by police to unlock, decrypt or otherwise deal with encryption technologies, re-routed (IP) addresses as well as other technical road blocks that criminals take advantage of to hide their digital footprints and carry out cybercrime. Criminal activity in the cyberspace area is complex and typically transnational in character, where potential evidence is transient and over the course of numerous jurisdictions.

Cybercrimes affect Canadaians in real and harmful ways to varying degrees. For law enforcement, addressing cybercrime needs wide-based domestic as well as international police cooperation, public and private sector organization engagement, as well as the integration of new technical tools and skills with traditional enforcement procedures. With the RCMP being Canada’s national police force, the RCMP must strive to be a leader in the fight against cybercrime. 

RCMP Approach to Combating Cybercrime

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the only federal organization with the mandate and authority to investigate criminal offences in relation to cybercrime, for instance, those who target government systems and networks, or other sectors of critical infrastructure. With RCMP being the national police force of Canada, they have a wide mandate to investigate criminals in the cyber space, which results in the disruption or apprehension of their cybercrime dealings. Activities of law enforcement range from identification and prioritization cybercrime threats based on criminal intelligence to the investigation and disruption of cybercrime activities, all the way to handling the digital evidence in aid of cybercrime investigations.

The RCMP’s roles regarding cyber as well as responsibilities are in line with its duty to preserve peace, prevent crime and other offences against the laws of Canada which are outlined in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act. Not only has the Royal Canadian Mounted Police been contracted as the local police service of jurisdiction provincial, territorial and municipal levels, it also has a wide policing mandate in matters that are in relation to cybercrime as a lot of crimes are carried out by way of modern technology.

The RCMP also has an important role inside the wider government’ cyber community. Under Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police works closely with its government partners in order to create a safe and secure cyberspace in Canada.

Conclusion 

Cybercime in itself has a tangibal, immediate, ongoing impact on Canadians. In terms of a macro level, cybercrime impacts Canadian government as well as critical infrastructure systems and the integrity of Canada’s financial sectors and economy. On a personal level, cybercrime involves financial loss, grievous harm such as child sexual exploitation and cyber bullying, also the infringement of privacy rights may also be a consequence.

As these threats evolve, a paradigm shift is required with regard to how crimes are known and policed in a digital era. They require a response from law enforcement that should address the criminal side in cyberspace whilst complementing wider industry security and government measures.

An example of a cybersecurity firm working with police is ISA; we are a cybersecurity focused technology firm, with over twenty-eight years of experience helping organizations of all sizes solve complex challenges relating to IT security. Contact us for more information.

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