Leaked “ possibly the biggest ransomware incident to date ” due to a threat to agents in Washington, DC, according to an expert.
The U.S. Capital Police Department has suffered a massive inside information leak after refusing to respond to blackmail requests from a Russian-speaking ransomware syndicate. Experts said it was the worst known ransomware attack to ever hit a U.S. police department.
The gang, known as the Babuk Group, liberated thousands of Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department sensitive documents on the dark web Thursday.
An Associated Press review found hundreds of police officer disciplinary files and intelligence reports containing information from other agencies, including the FBI and the Secret Service.
Ransomware attacks have reached epidemic levels as foreign criminal gangs cripple the computer networks of state and local governments, police departments, hospitals and private businesses. They demand large payments to decrypt stolen data or to prevent it from being disclosed online.
A cyberattack last week stopped the Colonial pipeline, the country’s largest fuel pipeline, sparking gasoline hoarding and panic in parts of the southeast.
Brett Callow, threat analyst and ransomware expert at security firm Emsisoft, said the police leak was “possibly the biggest ransomware incident to date” because of the risks it poses. for officers and civilians.
Some of the documents included security information from other law enforcement agencies related to President Joe Biden’s inauguration, including a reference to a “built-in source” to a militia group.
A document details the action taken by the FBI in its investigation into two homemade bombs left at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee before the insurgency at the US Capitol January 6th.
This includes the “big data” of cell phone towers and plans to “analyze purchases” of Nike shoes worn by a person of interest, the document said.
The police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the PA, but previously said some officers’ personal information was stolen.
Some of this information has already been leaked, revealing personal information about some officers from background checks, including details of their past drug use, finances, and – in at least one incident – past sexual abuse.
Recently released files contain details of the disciplinary proceedings of hundreds of officers dating back to 2004. Files often contain sensitive and embarrassing private details.
“It’s going to send a shock to the law enforcement community across the country,” Ted Williams, a former department officer who is now a lawyer, told The Associated Press.
It represents a retired officer whose background file was included in an earlier leak.
Williams said public background checks and disciplinary records made it difficult for officers to do their jobs.
“The more crooks know about a law enforcement officer, the more the crooks try to use him to their advantage,” he said.
The Babuk Group said this week that it wanted $ 4 million not to release the files, but was offered only $ 100,000.
Absolutely fascinating to see the actual negotiations between the police and the Babuk ransomware attackers.
– Ray [REDACTED] (@RayRedaced) May 13, 2021
The department did not say whether it made the offer. Any negotiation would reflect the complexity of the ransomware problem, as police find themselves forced to consider making payments to criminal gangs.
The FBI, which is assisting in this case, discourages ransomware payments.