Our neighbors up north don’t take computer and server seizures lightly. In fact, according to Dmitry Glazyrin, owner of White Falcon Communications (a Canadian web hosting company), the Royal Canadian Mounted Patrol (RCMP) seized equipment that ultimately destroyed his business. He’s filed a lawsuit against the RCMP as well as the Attorney General of Canada. The RCMP civil servants Paul Wrigglesworth and Clint Baker made the seizure in June 2013, however it’s taken nearly 18 months for the lawsuit to be filed.
Glazyrin, who filed a BC Supreme Court civil claim on November 6, 2014, says the RCMP investigation was “negligent.” The seizures were kickstarted by an investigation led by the US, which alleged that malware (Citadel botnet) was based at the Burnaby-based Falcon Communications.
According to Glazyrin’s claim, “It is well known in the Internet security industry that legitimate businesses can be affected by botnet infections and indeed the United States of America have a number of legitimate online businesses that had been affected with the ‘Citadel’ malware. It did not occur to the Defendants Wrigglesworth and Baker that White Falcon Communications may have been the victim of the Citadel botnet and malware, and instead jumped to the erroneous conclusion that the Plaintiffs herein were actively engaged in the crime of unauthorized use of a computer and possession of (said) device to obtain computer service.”
Taking Care of Business
Beyond marring the company’s reputation, Glazyrin reports that the seizure completely destroyed his business. The media coverage in Canada was intense, destroying his goodwill and making him close the doors of Falcon Communications for good.
Thus far, he’s seeking damages for a negligent investigation and “intentional interference” with his business. As of December, the RCMP and Attorney General haven’t released a response. This is a relatively brand new lawsuit, with no previous similar allegations to gauge Glazyrin’s likelihood of success.
The Host with the Most (Lawsuits)
If you’re the owner of a web hosting business, you know very well how precious your equipment is. A “good” server along can cost nearly $200,000. Plus, you guarantee a certain level of service and uptime to your customers. Many hosts also offer compensation to their clients if they don’t deliver as promised. The seizure of a single server (which might be all some smaller web hosts have) renders them unable to provide promised service completely.
However, if you simply rely on a web host to keep your website up and running (as all website owners do), what does it mean for you if a company’s server is seized? You’ll of course need to quickly change hosts. On the other hand, if you’re in the research stage of finding a web host, would you be put off by a company that was involved with a lawsuit? Probably—especially since there are thousands of other web hosts out there.
Destroying a business is much easier than many people imagine, especially when that business is web hosting. Only time will tell how this lawsuit will play out, but it’s a reminder that even a thriving hosting company is just one stumble away from bankruptcy.