The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday that two Romanian nationals have been charged for hacking into a number of Washington, D.C. police surveillance cameras just days before President Donald Trump’s January inauguration.
Mihai Alexandru Isvanca and Eveline Cismaru were arrested Dec. 15 in Bucharest for their roles in the scheme, which compromised of 123 of the total 187 D.C. Metropolitan Police surveillance cameras and left them inoperable for days. The charges were filed under seal Dec. 11 and were first reported by CNN.
“This case was of the highest priority due to its impact on the Secret Service’s protective mission and its potential effect on the security plan for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration,” the DOJ statement reads.
Officials say the plot relied on Ransomware, which is typically disseminated in email links and locks users out of their files until a ransom is paid. Authorities first noticed something was amiss Jan. 12 and responded by taking the cameras offline, leaving them inoperable until Jan. 15., according to police.
The hackers, whom authorities believe are part of a broader hacking contingent, also planned to email out the ransomware to more than 179,000 different addresses, so it is unclear if they realize they had also targeted a police department, according to the statement.
Isvanca and Cismaru now face up to 20 years in federal prison on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit various forms of computer fraud. Prosecutors intend on seeking extradition for the pair, though three other hackers involved in the plot will remain in Europe to face charges.
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