Hackers Threaten To Publish Police Informant Data

Washington DC's Metropolitan Police Department has said its computer network has been breached in a targeted cyber-attack, US media report. The cyber criminals posted screenshots on their dark website supporting their claim to have stolen more than 250 gigabytes of data. The District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that it had asked the FBI to investigate the "unauthorised access." 

A ransomware group called Babuk is reportedly threatening to release sensitive data on police informants if it is not contacted within three days. The group warns it will start leaking information about police informants to criminal gangs if the police department doesn’t contact it within three days.

Babuk is thought to be a Russian based hacking group previously associated with breaches outside the US that has recently turned its attention to criminal ransom. Ransomware is used to scramble computer networks and steal information. Attackers target organisations with the aim to lock-down their systems and demand large sums of money in return for ending the hack. It is not clear if attackers managed to lock police out of their systems during the breach. 

Screenshots said to have been posted by the group on the dark web and shared on social media appeared to suggest it had gained access to information on criminal gang activity and police intelligence reports. 

"While we determine the full impact and continue to review activity, we have engaged the FBI to fully investigate this matter," the statement added, without providing further details of the reported breach." the Washington Police Dept. said in a statement.  

US government agencies have been targeted multiple times so far this year as a the imact of the disastrous SolarWinds breach continues. 

A worsening global epidemic of ransomware attacks is considered a national security threat by many, doing tens of billions of dollars in damage. US law enforcement is relatively powerless to counteract it as most of the criminals enjoy safe harbour in Russia and other nations with weak rule of law.

The Biden administration is attempting to improve the USA’s cyber security defenses, with an executive order expected soon. The Justice Department also recently formed a task force to help defend against ransomware attacks. By identifying ransomware as a priority, the task force will increase training and dedicate more resources to the issue, seek to improve intelligence sharing across the department, and work to identify “links between criminal actors and nation-states,” according to the memorandum.

The Verge:         CTV News:       BBC:      Wall Street Journal:     Sky:      ITPro:

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