Canadian law enforcement officials, including the RCMP, have launched a partnership with Microsoft to receive training on the latest technologies and threats in order to tackle the increasingly sophisticated world of cyber crime.
Bruce Cowper, senior program manager for security initiatives at Microsoft Canada, said that they partner at a number of levels with law enforcement and the government across Canada on issues including training and awareness.
“The Canadian Law Enforcement Cyber Crime Conference 2008 (held last month in Toronto) that we had is a big part of that,” Cowper said. “I brought up a number of representatives from the U.S. who specialize in various areas, from Windows forensics to compliancy.”
He added that they also had representatives from the Toronto Police, FBI and the RCMP share information about their cases.
Sergeant Marc Moreau of the RCMP said in an interview with InterGovWorld.com that the increasing use of cell phones in Canada and world-wide has caused the law enforcement community to have to adapt to this technology.
“Looking back just 10 to 15 years, the use of cell phones was nowhere near the level it is today…as a result, virtually every investigation involves the seizure and analysis of cell phones by our trained investigators,” said Moreau.
He added that cyber crime training was not as widely available to law enforcement in the past, however this area of expertise has increased over the past few years, and it’s expected that it will continue to grow.
Moreau added that the RCMP is faced with an ever changing field of sophistication in terms of the rapid advancement and development of new technology.
“In order to keep pace and also to ensure our own investigators remain current with technology, our organization endeavours to provide various training opportunities for our investigators.”
He said that currently a system that the RCMP has pursued with respect to specialized training is the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), which collects data from various sensors or switches at a factory, plant or in other remote locations, and then sends the data to a central computer which then manages and controls the data.
Moreau said that one of the challenges that law enforcement faces with cyber crime is the “borderless aspect” of the crime.
“This means that a criminal can easily perpetrate his/her miscreant skills from the comfort of their home,” he explained. “They can easily travel from one country to another through the use of the Internet without regards to any security, and as a result this has changed the environment and capabilities of criminals.”
Cowper said that in Canada with respect to how the laws are applied, a lot of cyber crime cases are treated at a basic level, like fraud.
“A lot of the cases that we shared information about…is how different law enforcement teams were able to not only leverage other resources to help them with technical aspects, but how they were able to translate, investigate and essentially prosecute those cases in Canada under Canadian law,” said Cowper.
He added that one of the big challenges behind fraud cases is that they often go across into international boundaries, as noted by Moreau.
“This is the first time that the RCMP and the CACP (Canadian Association Chiefs of Police) and Microsoft have come together to put on a conference like this, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “It presented a lot of sharing opportunities to help them further their learning in a real way, and deal with real world cases.”