Blue Line

RCMP takes part in an international operation to neutralize Emotet

February 1, 2021  By Blue Line Staff

The RCMP participated in an international cybercrime operation to neutralize Emotet malware. The Cybercrime Investigative Team, in collaboration with RCMP technical operations specialists, led the Canadian component of this complex investigation. In Project CIPHER, which began in March 2020, the RCMP developed specialized techniques making it possible to seize critical digital evidence for the benefit of all investigative partners.

Coordinated by Europol and Eurojust, the operation also involved Dutch, German, French, British, American, Lithuanian and Ukrainian authorities. Thanks to their coordinated efforts, police made the malware infrastructure inaccessible by taking down the servers that enable it to function. A total of 13 servers that command and control Emotet were located in Canada. Simultaneously, 50 additional servers were blocked around the world.

Project CIPHER and the RCMP’s critical role in this international operation are very concrete examples of our support for Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy,” said Michael Duheme, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Policing. “Digitally protecting all Canadians and identifying and prosecuting cybercriminals are at the core of the RCMP’s efforts to combat cybercrime.”

Malware at the root of numerous cyber-attacks

Emotet is a form of malware used by criminal actors to illegally access the computer networks of individuals, corporations and government agencies. This malware is transmitted by email and is concealed in an attachment or download link.

Potential victims are invited to download and activate the malware, which enables criminals to take control of their device without their knowledge. Using this malware, cybercriminals are able to steal users’ personal information.

Emotet reportedly infected more than 1.7 million computers in 226 countries, including 6,000 in Canada. This malware is the foundation of 60 per cent of cyber-attacks and serves as a digital precursor to a wide range of other extremely damaging malware, making it one of the most significant current digital threats.

Vigilant investigative teams

In Canada, RCMP Cybercrime Investigative Teams investigate computer crimes of a national and international scope. Working collaboratively with the international law enforcement community to counter cyber threats is essential. Sharing of expertise and best practices helps us to better protect the public interest and be proactive in the fight against cybercrime.

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