The much-coveted and popular in news for keeping juveniles fingerprints data, the New York Police Department’s fingerprint unit yet again gained much attention as it was shut down for hours because of ransomware.
The NYPD was hit by this ransom malware when they hired a third-party IT, contractor, to set up a digital display at the police academy in Queens on October 5 last year. And when he connected his tainted NUC mini-PC to the police network, the virus attached itself to the system. The virus immediately spread to 23 machines linked to the department’s LiveScan fingerprint tracking system.
Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology Jessica Tisch said the officers discovered the malware within hours and contacted the cyber command and joint terrorism task force to solve the potential threat. We wanted to get to the bottom of this,’ Tisch said. ‘Was this plugged in maliciously was really important for us to get to the bottom of this.’
The ransomware was not executed but the fingerprints system was shut down for hours and were switched back on the next morning. Precautionary, 200 computers were reinstalled throughout the city to be safe.
The NYPD said, 0.1 percent of computers were attacked by the breach but the threat potential was large, as once inside the system, they could access case files and privileged data. The virus, ransomware locks the data, unless a ‘ransom’ is paid, fortunately, it could not execute the command and they shut down the system.
The IT contractor that accidentally bought the malware was questioned but not arrested.
Experts told the New York Post that breaches in public databases pose a serious security issue. Adam Scott Wandt, a professor of cybersecurity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, said any breach put information at risk of being stolen. ‘It’s a fairly complex world that we live in,’ he added. ‘Everything is linked together. The government normally does a fairly good job of keeping hackers out, but every now and then there is a breach.’