Ransomware attack hits Washington, D.C. police department

Apr 29, 2021

“Local government agencies typically don’t have strong security staff or large security budgets, which puts them at a disadvantage against sophisticated attackers,” John Kinsella, chief architect of Accurics, told TechRepublic. “While smaller localities may not have as much ‘treasure’ for a ransomware gang, the likelihood of success in such an attack means than even a smaller payout will make going after more small targets worthwhile, compared to say, attempting to attack the NSA.”

Police departments in particular can be home to confidential data that would create trouble if stolen, especially if leaked publicly.

“Police departments hold immensely sensitive information about the public,” Kinsella said. “Many find value in this type of information to sell to untoward media outlets, use in blackmail attacks, or to tamper with ongoing investigations. Procedures and tactics may be exposed, along with sensitive sources of information.”

Finally, many cybercriminals now use a double-extortion tactic in which they not only encrypt the data but threaten to leak it publicly unless the ransom is paid. Even if the victimized organization has a restorable backup of the stolen data, they’re still under pressure to pay the ransom. In this case, the best strategy is still to prevent the attack from occurring in the first place.

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