Romanian ransomware hackers took over most of Washington, D.C.’s outdoor surveillance cameras just before President Trump’s inauguration, reports the Washington Post. A federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday said the January attack affected 123 of the D.C. police department’s 187 outdoor surveillance cameras, leaving them unable to record for several days. Two Romanians, whom law enforcement officials describe as part of a larger extortionist hacking group, are being charged in D.C. federal court with fraud and computer crimes. Mihai Alexandru Isvanca, 25, and Eveline Cismaru, 28, were arrested in Romania earlier this month, along with three other Romanian hackers who will face prosecution in Europe.
Prosecutors plan to seek extradition. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. On Jan. 12, D.C. police noticed several surveillance cameras were not functioning properly. Secret Service Agent Brian Kaiser investigated and found that they had been taken over by non-police users. Those people were sending spam messages infected with ransomware to a long list of email addresses. The city resolved the problem by taking the devices offline, removing all software and restarting the system at each site, a process that took about two days, according to police. From Jan. 12 to Jan. 15, none of the cameras were able to record video. No ransom was paid. There is no evidence the disruption threatened or harmed anyone’s safety, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.