Hack Of D.C. Police Cameras Was Part Of Ransomware Scheme, Prosecutors Say

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WASHINGTON - When hackers took over two-thirds of Washington, D.C., police's surveillance cameras days before the 2017 presidential inauguration, it appeared that the cyberattack was limited to elicit a single ransom payment.

But court documents show that the alleged scheme that January was far more ambitious.

Federal authorities say two Romanians accused in the hacking planned to use the police department computers to email ransomware to more than 179,000 accounts. That would have allowed them to extort those users as well - and use city government computers to hide their digital tracks. Prosecutors said the alleged hackers had also stolen banking credentials and account passwords and, using the police computers, could have committed "fraud schemes with anonymity."

In addition, authorities said they uncovered a separate scheme run by the same people - an allegedly fraudulent business that tricked Amazon's offices in Great Britain into sending money to the Romanians. (Amazon's chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.)

The intrusion in the District of Columbia occurred Jan. 9-12, 2017, and caused 123 of the police department's 187 surveillance cameras to go dark eight days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, sparking national security concerns. It appears the timing was a coincidence; prosecutors said the hackers probably did not know that the computers were used by police.

Washington, D.C., police say the incident did not affect safety or harm any investigations, but cybersecurity experts said it highlights the digital threat faced by governments and businesses andraises questions about the city's ability to quickly identify hacking.

"The question we should be asking of police is what controls were lacking and why were they unable to detect such an obvious intrusion," said Alex Rice, the chief technology officer and co-founder of HackerOne, a California firm that works with companies and the Defense Department to test computer security.

District officials said they are working hard to protect the city against a constant stream of cyberattacks. They did not answer questions specifically about the police cameras, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

Kevin Donahue, the deputy mayor for public safety, said in a statement that the District's cybersecurity program "is critical to our public safety, health care, and public education agencies."

His statement added that "each year, we see more than one billion malicious intrusion attempts, including ransomware, denial of service, and phishing attacks. We are continuously working to improve our cybersecurity defenses to ensure they protect our IT systems from the constantly evolving methods of cyber attacks."

Source : http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0718/hack_police_cameras.php3

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