WASHINGTON (AP) – Washington, DC, police said their computer network was hacked and Russian cybercriminals claim to have stolen sensitive information, including about informants, who they threatened to share with local gangs unless police pay a ransom.
Cybercriminals posted screenshots on a dark web site supporting their claim that more than 250 gigabytes of data had been stolen.
In a statement released Monday, the District of Columbia Police Department asked the FBI to investigate the unauthorized access. There was no indication that police operations were affected and the department did not immediately say whether it had been attacked with ransomware.
The Babuk group, a relatively new ransomware gang, said on its website that it had “downloaded enough information from its internal networks” and gave the police three days to contact the group “or we will start contacting the gangs to expose informants ”.
The screenshots shown indicate that the group has data from at least four computers, including intelligence reports, information on gang conflicts, the prison census, and other administrative documents.
Ransomware criminals leak sensitive information from the networks they hack, dropping malware that, once activated, encrypts data. Only after receiving a ransom payment do criminals provide software keys to decode the data.
So far this year, 26 government agencies in the United States have been attacked with ransomware, and criminals have published data on 16 of them online, said analyst Brett Callow of the software firm Emsisoft. Ransomware victims don’t always pay, often preferring the arduous task of rebuilding their networks from their backups.
Washington police said they were taking the threat seriously.
“We are aware of unauthorized access to our server. While we determine the full impact and continue to review the activity, we have spoken with the FBI to fully investigate the matter, ”the department said in a written statement. An FBI spokeswoman did not immediately comment.