The National Cybercrime Coordination Unit (NC3)

Cybercrime investigations are complex and technical in nature, requiring specialized investigative skills. As Canada's national police force, the RCMP takes all cybercrime seriously, but it requires a coordinated effort.

As set out in the Government of Canada's National Cyber Security Strategy, and in line with the RCMP Cybercrime Strategy, the RCMP has established the National Cybercrime Coordination Unit (NC3). Composed of both RCMP officers and civilians from a variety of backgrounds, the NC3 will work with law enforcement and other partners to help reduce the threat, impact and victimization of cybercrime in Canada.

Role of the NC3 Unit

While managed by the RCMP, the NC3 will serve all Canadian police agencies. Working with Canadian law enforcement agencies, government and private sector partners, the NC3 will:

  • Coordinate cybercrime investigations in Canada and work with partners internationally to combat a wide range of cybercrime incidents
  • Provide investigative advice and guidance to Canadian police
  • Produce cybercrime intelligence for Canadian police
  • Create a single point of contact for individuals and businesses to report cybercrime online

Who are our partners?

  • Canadian police: Municipal, provincial and territorial, and federal law enforcement
  • Federal departments and agencies: Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, Department of Justice
  • International law enforcement: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Europol, INTERPOL
  • Non-government: National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, financial institutions, educational Institutions, and other private and public sector partners

New public reporting system for cybercrime

The NC3 is developing a new public reporting system for cybercrime. Once in place, any individual or business who has been the victim of or witness to a cybercrime will be able use this system to report a cybercrime online to the NC3. In turn, the NC3 will analyze the reported incidents, make links to similar reports of cybercrime across Canada and internationally, and refer reports of cybercrime to relevant law enforcement agencies.

Key dates

  • April 2020: Official launch of the NC3 initial operating capability; with an emphasis on working with police partners to coordinate cybercrime investigations and share information
  • March 2022: Official launch of the new public reporting system for cybercrime
  • March 2023: The NC3 will be fully operational

Cybercrime defined

Advances in technology bring with it many benefits. For instance, the Internet allows users to connect instantly, anywhere in the world. Shopping and banking can be done from the comforts of home.

Unfortunately, these same advancements have opened the door to criminals who take advantage of the reach and anonymity of the Internet to commit crimes online. This is referred to as cybercrime.

There are many different types of cybercrime, but the RCMP defines cybercrime to be any crime where cyber - the Internet and information technologies, such as computers, tablets, or mobile devices – is instrumental to committing a criminal offence. The RCMP breaks cybercrime into two categories:

Technology-as-target: where the crime can only be committed using computers, networks and digital devices. This generally involves the unauthorized use of computers and data.

Examples include the use of malicious software ("malware") to illegally access computer systems, hacking to steal sensitive data such as passwords and banking information, and denial of service attacks to disrupt online services.

Technology-as-instrument: where the Internet and information technologies play an instrumental role in the crime. This generally involves traditional crimes, such as fraud, identity theft and extortion, which take on a new dimension in cyberspace.

Examples include online scams, such as phishing (i.e., the use of fraudulent emails to trick victims into providing personal and sensitive information), or online cybercrime marketplaces ("darknet markets") used to anonymously trade illicit goods and services.

See the RCMP report Cybercrime: an overview of incidents and issues in Canada for a fuller description of cybercrime.

See the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security document An Introduction to the Cyber Threat Environment for common concepts on cyber threat activity.

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