According to the Secret Service officials and Washington D.C city administration, just eight days before presidential inauguration took place, that is, on 12th January, unidentified hackers managed to compromise almost 70% of the police surveillance CCTV cameras across the city with ransomware. This indicated that hackers wanted to ask for ransom instead of gaining access to the city police’s security surveillance systems.
Currently, an investigation is being conducted into the matter, but city’s Chief Technology Officer official Archana Vemulapalli stated that none of the computer networks in the DC were hacked and the officials didn’t pay ransom to the hackers since the department took the matter into own their hands.
The IT department of DC police discovered four camera locations that were offline on the 12th of January. The department also found two types of ransomware blocking the officials from access to command and control center of the surveillance system. Upon further digging, the department concluded that a majority of devices were infected.
Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham maintains that the hacking of their CCTV cameras had no impact at all. The Washington Post reported that the infection lasted for 48 hours, but police claim that it didn’t have any significant impact on criminal investigations either. Officials have given out very limited details to the media and currently, they haven’t named anyone as a potential suspect.
However, the hack attack has forced major reinstallation spree across the city. It must be noted that the hacking act left CCTV cameras unable to record footages. This lasted until January 15th. Around 123 of the total 187 network video footage recorders installed inside the CCTV devices were affected by the attack.
Secret Service official Brian Ebert stated that the attack didn’t jeopardize the safety of the public. On the other hand, Vemulapalli claims that the technology department resolved the issue on its own and the software was removed after they took the devices offline. Then the system was restarted individually at every location. Vemulapalli also revealed that the hack was restricted to police department’s CCTV cameras only. Security experts are regarding this incident as a localized extortion effort of sorts.