A little over a week before then-President-elect Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, hackers were able to install ransomware on 70 percent of Washington D.C.'s police cameras.
The cyberattack on the Washington D.C. police cams launched a full-scale reinstallation effort by the city's technology office. Washington D.C.'s chief technology officer Archana Vemulapalli told the Washington Post that "the city paid no ransom and resolved the problem by taking the devices offline, removing all software and restarting the system at each site."
Conducting routine maintenance checks, the IT department of the D.C. police discovered that four camera locations were offline, for reasons unknown. After investigating the effected locations, the IT department found that the CCTV system had two types of ransomware, barring the IT professionals from gaining access to the system.
Though the technology office was able to remove the ransomware and reinstall the software, between January 12th and 15th, 123 of 187 police cameras were affected by the attack. Security officials have said the safety of those at the inauguration was not in any jeopardy and that the situation had already been handled before the main event. It was unknown who was responsible for the cyberattack at the time it was detected, only that it was localized and "appeared to be an extortion effort, according to D.C. officials. The ransomware that was installed on the camera system prevented recordings of the surrounding areas.
Finding the Hackers Responsible
In early February, Great Britain's National Crime Agency (serving in the same capacity as the U.S.' FBI) arrested two individuals in London for the cyberattack set on the police cams in D.C. A British man and Swedish woman (names have not, as of the writing of this article, been released) were taken into custody for the cyberattack and released on bail.
Though the city did not have to pay a ransom to get its camera network back up and running, the ransomware attack did interfere with a homicide investigation, making it more difficult for investigators to solve the case of murdered Vivian Marrow. Though the attack on the camera system is not related to the death of Ms. Marrow, it has led to issues capturing her killer. Fortunately, investigators have been able to use other recorded footage from an apartment building from across the scene of Ms. Marrow's untimely demise.
Cyberattacks have far reaching consequences. The two arrested in London thought nothing of the safety of the people in Washington D.C.'s streets, they just wanted money. That is the one and true motivation of a cyber hacker: money. If you're caught in the crosshairs, they will fire regardless. This is why cybersecurity insurance is such a valuable investment: if your business is hit by an attack, your insurance coverage will pay for the damages.
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