Ransomware Enters Spotlight, As Hackers Dump Personal Info of DC Police Officers, Colonial Pipeline Shut Down

Ransomware Enters Spotlight, As Hackers Dump Personal Info of DC Police Officers, Colonial Pipeline Shut Down

After a hack of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department that took place in April, negotiations with a ransomware gang apparently have stalled, and the gang now released sensitive information on police officers.

On Tuesday, Babuk ransomware gang published PDFs with extensive profiles of 22 current and former police officers in an extortion attempt to make the DC Police Department pay a ransom.

Most PDF files are over 100 pages long, and one is more than 300 pages. The files include such personal information as Social Security numbers, copies of driver’s licenses, dates of birth, results of psychological assessments, fingerprints, polygraph test results, and residential, financial, and marriage history.

Officers whose profiles were published said to NBC they had not been told by the department that their specific information had been stolen by hackers.

Soon after the attack in April, the Babuk gang published profiles of five officers, but then took them down because they started negotiations with the police. But those negotiations appear to have stalled now, as the DC police refused to pay the demanded $4 million and instead offered $100,000 saying the department’s “spending is closely controlled.” Babuk hackers called the police’s offer “unacceptable.”

It’s worth noting that although this attack has been conducted by a Russian-speaking gang, it has been attributed to a different group from the attack on the Colonial Pipeline.

There have been over 100 confirmed attacks against US companies this year alone. Ransomware cost victims around $75 billion in 2020, according to the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft.

Katie Nickels of the cybersecurity company Red Canary says that ransomware attacks have finally entered the spotlight after years of ravaging:

“It does seem like things are getting more frequent, but in reality it’s been happening for years,” she said. “Over the past few years, the number of ransomware attacks has increased, and just now in the past few months are they starting to get visibility,” she said. “I think this Colonial incident has lit a spark.”

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