A new federal report predicts Russian intelligence services and police will help cybercriminals operate with “near impunity” against their targets — including Canadians — in coming months.
The assessment says Russia, and to a lesser extent Iran, very likely act as cybercrime safe havens from which digital criminals based within their borders can operate against Western targets.
The cybercrime forecast is the latest assessment from the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, with support from the RCMP.
It says ransomware — malware that holds vital digital information hostage for payment — is likely the most disruptive form of cybercrime facing Canada because it is pervasive and can have a serious effect on an organization’s ability to function.
Officials believe cybercriminals bent on making money will almost certainly continue to target high-value organizations in critical infrastructure sectors in Canada and around the world over the next two years.
The report says organized cybercriminal groups can reap large sums through their specialized technical capabilities, including development of tailored malware.
Some forms of cybercrime, particularly ransomware, have both financial and physical effects on their victims, the report notes.
“For example, some hospitals that were victims of cybercrime indicated the incidents disrupted their ability to care for patients, leading to longer hospital stays for patients, delayed tests or procedures, complications from medical procedures, and, in some cases, increased death rates.”
Cybercrime can also disrupt the flow of essential goods and services by throwing a virtual wrench into an industrial supply chain, the report adds.
It notes a May 2021 ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline led to a shutdown of the largest fuel pipelines in the United States, leading to price surges and fuel shortages for millions of Americans.
Cybercriminals are continuously coming up with new tactics to help them maximize profit, the report says.
“Cybercrime has evolved from online theft and credit card fraud to more elaborate ways of extorting victims as the attack surface for cybercriminals has expanded. The increasingly interconnected nature of the modern global economy has provided a growing number of opportunities for cybercriminals as victims’ dependencies on technology continue to grow.”