Hackers release multiple files on DC cops in extortion attempt

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Cybercriminals seeking to extort the Washington Metropolitan Police Department have released numerous private files of five current and former officers.

The files, each approximately 100 pages long, are marked “Background Investigation Documents” and “Confidential” next to the Ministry seal. They include a wide range of personal information, as well as arrest history, housing and financial records, polygraph results, and many details about their training and work history.

A screenshot of a former officer’s polygraph test.via NBC News

Hackers are one of many known ransomware gangs who hack into an organization, then lock down its files or threaten to disclose them if they haven’t paid a ransom. Many, including the MPD hackers, are posting evidence of their exploits on dedicated websites on the dark web to increase pressure on their victims to pay.

A former MPD officer whose case was part of the leaks and who asked not to be named to protect his privacy, confirmed in a phone call that the information was genuine. MPD had not contacted him yet, he said.

The leak comes as ransomware attacks continue to hit public and private organizations across the country, including schools, hospitals, businesses and local government sites, costing the United States an estimated $ 3.6 billion. United in 2020. President Joe Biden’s administration plans to introduce a ransomware strategy that focuses on international law enforcement cooperation, but it has yet to be announced.

Disclosure of private information about police officers is a new wrinkle at a time when police conduct remains a topic of national discussion.

On Monday, after the hackers initially posted screenshots and a list of suspected gang suspects on its site, the MPD said in a statement that “we are aware of unauthorized access to our server” and that he called the FBI to investigate. .

Reached for comment, an MPD spokesperson did not address the five compromised, but pointed to a YouTube video of interim chief Robert J. Contee III, posted Tuesday.

“Our partners are currently fully engaged in the scope and impact assessment,” Contee said in the video. “If it is discovered that the personal information of our members or others has been compromised, we will provide you with additional information.”

Stacey Wright, a former FBI analyst who is now vice president of cyber resilience services at the nonprofit Cybercrime Support Network, said that by seizing the department’s files and threatening to release sensitive information, attackers have put the police in a bind: either pay a ransom. or risk endangering agents – and, potentially, victims of crime, confidential sources and other agency employees.

Police departments are particularly vulnerable to this type of attack because they don’t have the ability to shut down while trying to find a solution.

“It’s a rock and a hard place,” Wright said. “If they don’t pay the ransom and the information is displayed, there is a risk of damage. If they pay the ransom they give to criminals.”

Jon schuppe contributed.



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