City officials and the Secret Service have confirmed that just days before the presidential inauguration, police surveillance cameras in Washington, DC were targeted by hackers. Reportedly, 70 percent of the CCTV storage devices were infected with ransomware.
According to the Washington Post:
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.
Secret Service spokesman Brian Ebert said the safety of the public or protectees was never jeopardized.
Archana Vemulapalli, the city’s Chief Technology Officer, said the city paid no ransom and resolved the problem by taking the devices offline, removing all software and restarting the system at each site.
Vemulapalli said that an investigation is ongoing and that it is not believed that other DC computer networks were compromised.
The fact that hackers used ransomware indicates that they were likely after money rather than access to the security system. Ransomware typically locks down a system, making it unusable, until a price is paid by the victim.
Officials say that four camera sites were noticed as being offline on January 12th. When the technology office investigated, two forms of ransomware were discovered and a system-wide inspection was initiated.
While the police department insists that there was “no significant impact” resulting from the 48-hour infection, limited details are given. They claim that the hack did not affect any criminal investigations. Officials declined to name a suspect.
Gizmodo has reached out to the DC police department to confirm whether or not they know how the initial infection occurred. We will update this post when we receive an answer.