Recently, The Verge reported on a string of ransomware attacks that have hit cities including Baltimore; Atlanta, Georgia; Newark, New Jersey; and 22 Texas towns. Even The Weather Channel has fallen victim.
But before those attacks, there was an attack on the nation’s capital, days before the presidential inauguration. An article from The Wall Street Journal details how hackers Alexandru Isvanca and Eveline Cismaru seized control of Washington, DC’s surveillance cameras right before Trump’s inauguration. The piece is full of twists and turns, from the small-time beginnings of the hackers’ scamming careers to them eventually turning on each other.
The story contains a lot of colorful details about the pair. Here are some highlights:
- The hackers weren’t initially trying to hit DC police cameras. They caught a break after sending out hundreds of thousands of emails containing ransomware to a list of addresses purchased on the dark web — it just so happened that at least one was connected to DC police. In the end, they controlled 126 out of 186 DC police computers, which in turn controlled the surveillance cameras.
- Isvanca and Cismaru led authorities straight to a smoking gun. Well, at least a barbecuing device called a smoking gun. It turns out the pair used that same hacked DC police computer in a separate Amazon scam Cismaru was running. She ordered a smoking gun, and the tracking number showed up on the police computer, allowing authorities to see and raid the package’s destination.
- Isvanca didn’t do a great job of covering his tracks either. He ordered pizza using the same email address he used to hack the computers.
- Cismaru said that hacking into the capital’s surveillance system was easy. “Americans are stupid,” she said in a text to The Wall Street Journal.
You can read the rest of the fascinating details in the full story here.