A Romanian citizen pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from her role in a ransomware attack which involved hacking Washington, D.C., police cameras days before the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.
Eveline Cismaru, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud in charges stemming from a ransomware attack on the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in the District of Columbia which disabled two-thirds of the outdoor surveillance cameras operated by the agency and lasted from early January until Jan. 12, 2017, according to a Sept. 20 Justice Department release.
Had officials paid the ransom, it would have cost an estimated $60,800.
“While executing a ransomware attack, the conspirators converted a few of the computers into proxies and used those computers to disseminate additional ransomware and malware attacks,” officials said in the release. “At the time investigators disrupted the scheme, the conspirators were in the process of attacking as many as 179,616 other computers using stolen e-mails, e-mail passwords and banking credentials.”
The attack took place as several federal agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service were preparing security for the inauguration and would need the cameras for additional security.
Investigators were able to act fast and said the attack had no impact on the inauguration as the Secret Service and MPD quickly ensured that the surveillance camera system was secure and operational prior to the event.
Investigators eventually arrested Cismaru and a co-defendant, Mihai Alexandru Isvanca, 25, on Dec. 15, 2017.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit computer fraud carry statutory maximums of 20 years and five years in prison, respectively. Cismaru's plea deal requires her to cooperate fully in the investigation.