Serco hackers hit Washington DC police with ransomware

A Washington DC police officer
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Washington DC police department said on Monday that it has called in the FBI to investigate a breach of its IT systems.

The acknowledgement came after Russian ransomware gang Babuk claimed to have stolen sensitive data, including informant details, that it is threatening to share with criminal gangs unless the force pays a ransom, according to reports.

The Babuk group posted on a dark web site that it had "downloaded a sufficient amount of information from internal networks" and shared screenshots of the 250GB of data it claims to have taken. It gave the police three days to contact them or "we will start to contact gangs in order to drain the informants".

The DC Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that there was no indication that any police operations were affected, and the department did not immediately say whether it had been hit by ransomware.

"We are aware of unauthorised access on our server," the department statement said. "While we determine the full impact and continue to review activity, we have engaged the FBI to fully investigate this matter."

The US, in particular, has seen significant disruption due to ransomware attacks with the hack on the DC police department just one of 26 incidents just this year. Hackers also were also causing damage long before the pandemic with government agencies and towns in Florida being completely shut down.


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The Babuk group is also growing its reputation with a spate of 'successful' attacks across the globe. In February, the group targeted Serco, the firm behind the UK's NHS Test and Trace system.

The gang is said to be a relatively 'green' and unsophisticated organisation. According to PwC, the code the group originally used contained errors that kept it from fully compromising certain targets.

"We assess that, due to a disregard for error checking, Babuk would fail to execute altogether in some environments," the firm said, according to CyberScoop.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.