Romanian suspects charged with hacking DC police surveillance cameras

WASHINGTON — Two Romanian nationals were arrested and charged with a conspiracy to hack into 123 D.C. police department surveillance cameras, in connection with a scheme to distribute ransomware.

Mihai Alexandru Isvanca, 25, and Eveline Cismaru, 28, of Romania, were arrested on Dec. 15, 2017, at the Otopeni airport in Bucharest, Romania, for the crime that occurred in January 2017.

Both suspects have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit various forms of computer fraud, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu.

The Secret Service was notified that a number of D.C. police surveillance cameras had been compromised in January. Agents from the Washington Field Office immediately launched an investigation, which uncovered that the cameras had been compromised between Jan. 9 and Jan. 12, 2017.

The investigation also uncovered that ransomware variants, called “cerber” and “dharma,” had been stored on the computers connected to the surveillance cameras, in hopes to spread by email to at least 179,000 email addresses.

The case was of highest priority, due to its impact on the Secret Service’s protective mission and its potential effect on the security plan for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. Secret Service, D.C. police and the Chief Technology Office ensured that the camera system was secure before the inauguration.

The maximum penalty for a conspiracy to commit wire fraud is 20 years in prison.

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