Delta cybercop Europe-bound in hunt for ransomware attacker

A Delta police officer will be charting new territory when he heads overseas this month to join European counterparts attempting to crack a cybercrime case.

Const. Dustin Classen, with the DPD cybercrime unit, will be meeting in the Hauge, Netherlands, with a team from Europol who is chasing the same suspect.

“Because the cybercriminals are so internationally based, we don’t really know where they are,” Classen said.

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What police do know is this: Earlier this year, a malicious actor was able to exploit a weakness in Microsoft Exchange to get into a mid-sized Delta business’s network. They were then able to encrypt it, locking the owners out in what’s known as a ransomware attack.

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A demand was made for payment to unlock the network but the business restored its system from backups and went to the police.

Click to play video: 'Cyber criminals increasingly attacking critical Canadian infrastructure'

Cyber criminals increasingly attacking critical Canadian infrastructure

Cyber criminals increasingly attacking critical Canadian infrastructure

Classen said investigators were able to collect “digital fingerprints” from data in the hack, and shared them with counterparts at Europol, the European Union’s police agency. Investigators in Europe were able to link those identifiers to attacks in several European countries.

“Now we have another agency that has a whole different set of circumstances. If we can connect with them, and pool our resources, maybe we can put the pieces of the puzzle together and figure out who it is,” he said.

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It’s a big step for Delta’s small cybercrime unit, which Classen said has doubled in size in recent years.

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Ransomware attacks have become a growing threat in recent years. TransLink, Vancouver Coastal Health, and a third-party service provider for BC Cancer were all targeted by such…