Hackers Infected DC Police Cameras Before Trump’s Inauguration


Many sites were infected by ransomware that could have taken the city police hostage.

A few days before the inauguration of Donald Trump, hackers infected 70% of storage devices that record police surveillance footage in Washington, DC.

The Washington Post reported, “City officials said ransomware left police cameras unable to record between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15. The cyberattack affected 123 of 187 network video recorders in a closed-circuit TV system for public spaces across the city, the officials said late Friday.”

However,  city officials didn’t pay a ransom. They took the devices offline, formatted the software, and restarted the systems on site.

The initial discovery of the infection was made on January 12, 2017, when the police found a couple of sites not functioning properly. They informed the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), which found two different kinds of ransomware on four recording devices. That’s when they started investigating other sites and discovered more sites with ransomware.

The good news is that each site had four cameras connected to each recording unit; however, the recording unit was isolated from the department’s environment, so the infection was contained to the recording devices.

Although it’s comforting that they found the ransomware, it’s unnerving that it was discovered because of malfunctioning devices and not because a system is in place that can detect malicious activities and mitigate them.

Let’s hope after this incident and going forward,  the OCTO will take steps to secure these devices.


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