Attacks/Breaches

1/2/2018
04:45 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Hackers Who Disabled Police Cameras Prior to Trump Inauguration Left Trail of Clues

Romanian police last month arrested Mihai Isvanca, and Eveline Cismaru for allegedly breaking into 123 computers controlling surveillance cameras at DC's police department in 2017.

Two Romanian nationals who were arrested recently for allegedly breaking into computers controlling police surveillance cameras in Washington, DC just ahead of President Trump's inauguration last year appear to have left a trail of evidence that led authorities directly to them.

Romanian police last month arrested Mihai Isvanca, 25 and Eveline Cismaru, 28 at Bucharest's Otopeni airport apparently as the pair was about to leave the country. They are currently waiting to be extradited to the US on wire fraud and other computer crime-related charges. Isvanca and Cismaru face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted on all counts.

Documents related to their arrest released last week describe the pair as breaking into 123 computers associated with surveillance cameras used by DC's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and using the compromised systems to distribute ransomware.

The intrusions occurred sometime between January 9 and January 12, 2017. It resulted in several critical police surveillance cameras becoming disabled just prior to Trump's inauguration. The incident triggered the highest priority response by US law enforcement because of its potential impact on security plans for the event.

An affidavit in support of the criminal compliant against Isvanca and Cismaru shows that the MPD called in the US Secret Service to investigate the break-in on January 12, 2017. Secret Service agents from the Washington Field Office discovered that 123 of the MPDs 187 outdoor surveillance cameras had been illegally accessed and were being used to distribute spam emails containing the Cerber and Dharma ransomware samples. One of the infected systems contained a text file with over 179,600 email addresses belonging to targets of the ransomware scheme.

Somewhat curiously considering their choice of target, Isvanca and Cismaru did not appear to have been particularly careful about concealing their tracks. A forensic analysis of three of the MPD's infected computers yielded a lot of information on the identity of the alleged perpetrators and their direct involvement in the malicious activity.

One of the infected devices showed that the attackers had accessed multiple fraudulently established email accounts while the computer was under their control. The email accounts were used to share IP addresses, usernames, passwords, and other details on the compromised surveillance camera computers. They were also used to download ransomware samples on the compromised MPD systems and to send and receive thousands of stolen credit card numbers.

Investigators were able to link at least two of the email addresses directly to Isvanca and Cismaru. Google records, for instance, showed that both Isvanca and Cismaru had used their actual Gmail address as recovery email addresses for some of the accounts associated with the malicious activity. Investigators also discovered that the IP addresses from which the malicious email accounts were established belonged separately to Isvanca and Cismaru.

Other evidence showed that the file containing the over 179,600, target email addresses for the ransomware campaign had been downloaded to the MPD computer directly from Cismaru's system. Numerous, barely concealed email exchanges also showed the two had collaborated on the plot.

The arrests of Cismaru and Isvanca follow the detainment of two other individuals—a British man and Swedish woman—in London last year for the attacks on the MPD computers. However, the affidavit released last week shows that the two individuals were not connected to the attack. They were detained based on information pertaining to a tracking number for Hermes, a European packing shipping company that was found on one of the hacked computers. 

Investigation of the tracking number showed it to be associated with a delivery address in London belonging to the two individuals who were detained. But a forensic analysis of computers seized from their residence showed them to have no link to the MPD attack. Instead, the tracking number was associated with a purchase the two individuals had made through Amazon from a company that was registered in Cismaru's name.

Related Content:

 

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
kiasati
50%
50%
kiasati,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/28/2018 | 11:39:33 AM
informative
intresting.. thanks for sharing.. 

anyway, cctv cameras could be helpful in such stuations. but if they're not gonna be hacked.

دوربین مداربسته 
Meet 'Bro': The Best-Kept Secret of Network Security
Greg Bell, CEO, Corelight,  6/14/2018
Containerized Apps: An 8-Point Security Checklist
Jai Vijayan, Freelance writer,  6/14/2018
Four Faces of Fraud: Identity, 'Fake' Identity, Ransomware & Digital
David Shefter, Chief Technology Officer at Ziften Technologies,  6/14/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-0291
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
A vulnerability in the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) input packet processor of Cisco NX-OS Software could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to cause the SNMP application on an affected device to restart unexpectedly. The vulnerability is due to improper validation of SNMP protocol ...
CVE-2018-0292
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
A vulnerability in the Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) Snooping feature of Cisco NX-OS Software could allow an unauthenticated, adjacent attacker to execute arbitrary code and gain full control of an affected system. The attacker could also cause an affected system to reload, resulting in ...
CVE-2018-0293
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
A vulnerability in role-based access control (RBAC) for Cisco NX-OS Software could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to execute CLI commands that should be restricted for a nonadministrative user. The attacker would have to possess valid user credentials for the device. The vulnerability is du...
CVE-2018-0294
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
A vulnerability in the write-erase feature of Cisco FXOS Software and Cisco NX-OS Software could allow an authenticated, local attacker to configure an unauthorized administrator account for an affected device. The vulnerability exists because the affected software does not properly delete sensitive...
CVE-2018-0295
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
A vulnerability in the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) implementation of Cisco NX-OS Software could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to cause a denial of service (DoS) condition due to the device unexpectedly reloading. The vulnerability is due to incomplete input validation of the BGP update...