Dec 02 2015
OTTAWA - The RCMP plans to set up a cybercrime team to investigate and disrupt the most significant online threats to the country's reputation and economy.
The national police force says the Ottawa-based team will probe cyber-related criminal activity targeting the federal government, key business assets and national critical infrastructure, such as power grids and banking systems.
The initiative, to be fully in place by 2020, is a central feature of the RCMP's cybercrime strategy released Wednesday.
The Mounties want to address the challenge of policing digital misdeeds when criminals - and the evidence needed to catch them - often prove elusive.
The borderless nature of Internet-related crime - from digital identity theft to online child exploitation - is the biggest challenge confronting investigators, since "the perpetrator of the offence could be anywhere in the world,'' said RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Adam.
The strategy is backed by $30 million over five years, enough to create 40 new positions to be staffed by police officers and civilians.
The Mounties unfurled a 15-point action plan that also includes:
A dedicated federal intelligence unit to identify new threats;
Efforts to improve forensic capabilities to handle digital evidence;
Expanded training opportunities for investigators and intelligence analysts.
The force will develop means of more effectively recruiting personnel with the computer and network engineering skills to fight crime in cyberspace. In addition, the RCMP plans to work more closely with private-sector and international partners.
"Cybercrime is vast in scope and magnitude and requires public and private-sector organizations to work together and share information on new and emerging cybercrime threats,'' the strategy document says.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told a security conference last week that police exhibit rooms are stacked with digital devices - and the trick is finding ways to extract the valuable evidence hidden on them.
Paulson said that while the Internet is a marvellous place, it has a dark and dangerous side that creates a need for a law enforcement presence.
The Mounties are grappling with the dilemma of trying to investigate crime in a virtual world where both criminals and law-abiding people jealously guard their privacy.
Paulson argued the RCMP needs access to Internet subscriber information - without the time-consuming exercise of obtaining a judicial warrant - to keep pace with child predators and other online villains who use encryption to mask their activities.
The top Mountie said a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that curtailed the flow of basic data about customers - such as name and address - has "put a chill on our ability to initiate investigations.''
Adam said Wednesday the police force understands the need for a balance between privacy and the ability to conduct investigations.
The RCMP is committed to exploring with Canadians how they expect the police to enforce the laws on the Internet, he added.
One of those provisions "may or may not be warrantless access,'' Adam said. "It would certainly assist in some areas, but we will take the advice and follow the guidance of government.''
The new strategy does not delve into legislative specifics, saying only that "Canada's legal and public policy regime will need to keep pace with the evolution of technology to permit the effective investigation of cybercrime, both domestically and internationally.''