The cybercriminals claimed that they had stolen 250 gigabytes of information concerning police officers. Babuk demanded USD 4 million from the authorities to prevent the leakage of the data.

In late April, a group of hackers gained access to the Washington police’s computer network. The criminals threatened to publish confidential information that they stole if they did not receive a payment of USD 4 million.

This situation led the police to respond with an offer of USD 100,000 for the hackers. They did so despite the restrictions against ransom payments for ransomware that the US Department of the Treasury has imposed.

The Babuk cybercriminal group broke into the police’s system and hijacked files using remote encryption making them inaccessible to the user. The hackers request the police to pay them a ransom in exchange for decrypting the data that they stole.

They claim that they have hijacked 250 gigabytes of data, which includes disciplinary files on various agents. In addition, they stole psychological evaluations, polygraph responses, interviews with supervisors, and personal information on police officers, Vice reported.

During the negotiations, the hackers released details about drug use, finances, and incidents of sexual abuse. The goal was to lobby for the payment, The Guardian noted.

A police spokesman said that the FBI would be in charge of the investigation while they determined the impact of what happened.

Paying Ransom for Ransomware Can Lead to Penalties for those Who Do It

The police tried to negotiate with the hackers but the deal fell through when the authorities offered USD 100,000, according to Vice. “If this offer is not acceptable, our conversation seems to be complete. I think that we understand the consequences of not reaching an agreement. We are fine with that result,” the police said.

The Babuk hackers were demanding USD 4 million, so they called this offer “unacceptable.” After that, they told the police to follow their “website at midnight.”

In 2020, the US Department of the Treasury warned ransomware victims that they should not pay ransom for ransomware. By doing so, they would be violating the restrictions that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had placed.

The attack that the Babuk group perpetrated coincided with cyber extortion that occurred on May 7th. That situation forced the major Colonial Pipeline from Texas to suspend operations.

The DarkSide gang tried to seize almost 100 gigabytes of data, threatening to leak it to the Internet. However, the FBI and other government agencies worked with private companies to counter the attack.

US authorities have yet to determine whether the two hacking groups acted together.

Ransomware Attacks Generate Huge Financial Losses

The computer security company Sophos did a study on the financial impact of ransomware attacks. The document indicates that so far in 2021 it has been more than twice that of 2020.

This brought tech companies’ losses from USD 761,000 in 2020 to USD 1.85 million so far in 2021.

According to Sophos, companies have not lost money just by paying ransoms; the time that companies remain inactive, and new business opportunities are other influential factors.

By Alexander Salazar


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