The cat is out of the bag. The mystery behind the surveillance cameras that were hacked — just before the inauguration of the newly-elected US President, Donald Trump, in January 2017 — has been solved.
According to ransomware removal experts, those cameras were digitally enslaved through a ransomware. Investigations also revealed that the hacked devices were further exploited for the propagation of the ransomware to a greater scale. More than 170,000 computer systems had been estimated to be attacked by the ransomware.
After ransomware removal, the cameras were brought back to their original states. Subsequent investigations led officials to believe that the perpetrators possessed foreign passports. As a result, a chase followed to hunt down the cybercriminals. Digital trail pointed towards a European country, Romania, where finally the mastermind was caught; a woman in her late 20s, Eveline Cismaru.
Last week, Ms. Cismaru pleaded guilty for the federal charges. Earlier, Cismaru succeeded in an escape from the arresting authorities. However, the collaboration of law enforcement agencies ensured that she was captured in the UK before her digital trail could become cold. She was busted in the UK in March 2018, while her arrival to the U.S. dated to 26th July 2018, through the extradition agreement between the U.S. and UK.
However, she was not alone. Her accomplice, Mihai Alexandru Isvanca, was nabbed by law enforcement authorities in the Romanian city of Bucharest. Isvanca is expected to arrive in the U.S. after the extradition processing. The remaining team is being prosecuted in the European territories.
The hunt for these ransomware attack perpetrators was not a journey without hiccups. A month after the attack, a couple was arrested: a Swedish woman and a British man in their 50s. Agencies were able to locate the couple in a London-based address through a hacked computer — the computer showed information about a package that pointed to the couple’s address. However, after a thorough analysis by ransomware removal experts, it was determined that the couple was not guilty.