Hackers Infected Capitol Surveillance System With Ransomware Prior to Trump Inauguration

Technologists discovered two forms of malicious software had infected network video recorders at multiple locations.

WASHINTON – Security cameras positioned across the nation’s capital malfunctioned prior to President Trump’s inauguration Jan. 20, blocking law enforcement from recording video feeds for several days leading up to his swearing-in and triggering reinstallation efforts across Washington, D.C., according to a news report.

Reportedly, 70% of the video surveillance cameras 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.

Technologists found that two forms of malicious software had infected NVRs at each of the four sites, spurring an investigation that subsequently identified dozens of other affected devices across the District, police officials told the Post.

Public safety was never jeopardized as a result of the infections, Secret Service spokesman Brian Ebert told the newspaper.

Investigators resolved the problem by identifying each of the infected NVRs, then disconnecting those devices from the Internet and purging them completely of software before restarting the system, Vemulapalli told the Post.

It is not known what data, if any, was lost, or if the ransomware was designed simply to keep the system offline. Exactly how the infection got there in the first place is also a mystery. The cyberattack is under investigation, the Post reported.


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