In a sudden revelation by The Washington Post, reports have found that on the heels of the Trump inauguration, more than two-thirds of the Washington D.C. public surveillance cameras were hacked into. In doing so, the recently published article found that the cameras were taken control of by Romanian hackers just prior to the inauguration that took place last January, with the information being made public when the case of a federal criminal complaint against the hacks was unsealed on Thursday.
Romanian hackers took over two-thirds of Washington D.C.'s outdoor surveillance cameras just before Trump's inauguration, according to a newly unsealed federal criminal complaint. https://t.co/XuOsOR9nwL
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 1, 2018
The case found that the cyber attack was aimed at taking control of the surveillance cameras throughout the city, in which the hackers were able to take over a total of 123 of the 187 cameras that were being operated by the Washington D.C. police department. The hack rendered the surveillance cameras essentially useless for the purpose of the inauguration, due to the fact that they were unable to record any aspect of the festivities, leading to concerns and issues in regards to the security preparations of such a significant day.
The Romanian hackers have since been indicted when the case was brought to the attention of officials. The hack was conducted and operated by two Romanian individuals, Mihai Alexandru Isvanca, 25, and Eveline Cismaru, 28, both of which have been found guilty on charges of fraud and computer crimes, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Upon further investigation, it was found that the two hackers were members of a larger hacking group that has partaken in an array of criminal activities in recent years, including the extortion of individuals and businesses using ransomware attacks to target software and emails. In doing so, the attacks infected computers by sending spam email links that would remain unnoticed, allowing the hackers to encrypt information present on the hard drives of their victims, essentially holding the data hostage until victims paid the requested amount to the group in order to regain the ability to access their files.
It is not yet known whether the aforementioned hackers who conducted the surveillance attack knew that their latest endeavor would target police cameras, or if they simply thought it was another extortion attack on a business as they had conducted previously.
The problem had been an ongoing issue with D.C. police cameras, but was only noticed and brought to attention just 8 days prior to the inauguration date in January. Those monitoring the cameras were able to notice that the devices were not working properly, requiring police officials to switch all the cameras offline, and restarting them individually in order to ensure that the breach was resolved. The process took nearly two days to complete, and left surveillance cameras without any recorded footage between January 12th and 15th of last year.
Problem was resolved by taking the devices offline, removing all software and restarting the system at each site, a process that took about two days. From Jan. 12 to Jan. 15, none of the cameras were able to record video. No ransom was paid.https://t.co/ZvDHeUqExS
— avi scharf (@avischarf) January 1, 2018
After indicting the hackers of being guilty of the charges brought against them, prosecutors handling the case now are attempting to extradite the individuals back to their country of Romania for further sentencing. If found guilty by the Romanian courts, the hackers may be facing a sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
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