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Just eight days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, criminals infected 70 percent of Washington’s CCTV cameras with ransomware, according to city officials and the police. 123 of the city's 187 network video recorders were affected and unable to record between January 12 and 15.
Police noticed that four of the closed-circuit cameras weren’t recording on Jan 12, according to the Washington Post. They informed the city’s Technology Office, which found two forms of ransomware on the devices before launching a citywide sweep.
Archana Vemulapalli, Washington's Chief Technology Officer, said the city paid no ransom. The affected units were cleaned by taking the devices offline, removing all the software, and restarting the system at each site.
It’s not known what data, if any, was lost, or if the ransomware was designed just to keep the system offline. Exactly how the infection got there in the first place is also a mystery.
It appears that the timing of the attack so close to the inauguration was a coincidence. Vemulapalli explained that the infection was confined to the police CCTV cameras that monitor public areas and did not extend deeper into D.C. computer networks. “There was no access from these devices into our environment,” he said. City officials added that the intrusion was “localized” and did not affect criminal investigations.
Police say the malware had “no significant impact,” and declined to name any suspects. The incident is the latest in a line of high-profile ransomware infections, which includes the San Francisco transit system hack last year and attacks on several hospitals.