Canadian arrested for ransomware attacks in U.S. after two year probe

FILE PHOTO: A hooded man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A 31-year-old Ottawa man has been arrested on suspicion of mounting ransomware attacks in the United States and Canada after a joint probe that took almost two years, police said on Tuesday.

Matthew Philbert is responsible for numerous ransomware attacks affecting businesses, government agencies and private individuals throughout Canada as well as cyber-related offenses in the United States, the Ontario Provincial Police said.

Philbert was detained after a 23-month joint probe between Canadian police forces and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, which reached out to Canada in early 2020 for help with ransomware attacks.

He has been charged with fraud, mischief and unauthorized access of computer systems.

In Anchorage, the U.S. attorney's office said Philbert had damaged a computer in Alaska in April 2018. He faces one U.S. count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of fraud.

Canada's signals intelligence agency said on Monday that global ransomware attacks increased by 151% in the first half of 2021 compared with 2020.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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