Computer Crime Research Center


Ransomware rising

Date: November 22, 2021
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Braden Dupuis

... the paper (as well as how much the legal action cost taxpayers).

In late September, the RMOW responded, estimating the necessary search time for the requested records at 120 hours, with a processing fee of $3,510. A municipal staffer also referred to several sections of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, saying that, “with nearly 100-per-cent certainty, nothing will be released” of the info requested.

Pique submitted a scaled-back FOI request on Sept. 22, focusing specifically on the costs and details of the lawsuit against the paper. The RMOW responded with an estimated search time of 17.5 hours and a total cost of $435.

Pique requested an exemption from the charge, arguing the information is in the public interest, which the RMOW granted on Nov. 5.

In a Nov. 5 letter to Pique, the RMOW extended the deadline for collection of the necessary records to Jan. 6, 2022, adding that when it does release the records it “will be electing to withhold the responsive records under a number of FOIPPA exceptions,” but Pique can appeal to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

“I’m not an IT expert, I’m not a security expert. I can understand the fear of the unknown, of the dark web … it sounds menacing,” says Coun. Cathy Jewett, when asked about the perceived lack of transparency around the incident.

“And so it’s because we don’t know. We don’t know who they are, we don’t know what they can do. We know how much of our information that they could potentially have, and that’s scary.”

As for the lawsuit, Mayor Jack Crompton says the RMOW stands behind its decision to sue the local paper.

“It’s a decision our organization made, and it’s one that was not easy to take by any means,” he says. “Clearly the fact that we did take action indicates that it’s a decision council approved.”

The attack itself was “as challenging for our organization as anything we’ve faced this term, which is saying something,” Crompton adds.

“There’s more to do still, but I’ve been really impressed with the work we have done to recover … [cyber security incidents are] not something that are going to stop, so we need to continue to have it as a high priority for our organization.”


According to the RCMP, the National Cybercrime Coordination Unit (NC3) has received more than 1,600 requests for assistance from law enforcement partners since June 2020, more than 30 per cent of which are related to ransomware.

The proliferation of ransomware activity can be attributed to many factors, says RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Caroline Duval, in an email: the exponential growth of the internet and communication technologies; the borderless nature of cyberspace; cheaper and more commonplace technologies; and the payment of ransoms ensuring the crime stays lucrative.

“The criminal exploitation of new and emerging technologies requires new policing measures to keep pace in a digital era. The same technologies that people and organizations use for legitimate purposes may be used by criminals to mask their online activities and evade detection from law enforcement,” Duval says.

“Police must often find technical solutions to decrypt, unlock or otherwise deal with encryption technologies, re-routed Internet Protocol addresses and other technical roadblocks that criminals exploit to cover their digital tracks and commit cybercrimes.”

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