Romanian Cyberattack Targeted Security Cameras Ahead of Inauguration

Eveline Cismaru pleaded guilty to wire and computer fraud

A Romanian woman pleaded guilty to a cyberattack on surveillance cameras ahead of the 2017 inauguration. (Matt Rhodes for CQ Roll Call)

A Romanian woman pleaded guilty in connection with a cyberattack against the D.C. police department that disabled two-thirds of the outdoor surveillance cameras operated by Metropolitan Police Department, just days before the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.

Eveline Cismaru, a Romanian citizen, pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges related to her role in the cyberattack.

The computer intrusion was used to execute a ransomware attack, according to the Secret Service. The 126 infected computers were locked and displayed instructions to pay Bitcoin in order to unlock the affected machines, which were connected to the cameras. The ransom to unlock all the computers would have totaled $60,800.

Cismaru and her coconspirator Mihai Alexandru Isvanca were in the process of attacking as many as 170,000 other computers using stolen e-mails, e-mail passwords and banking credentials, according to the Secret Service.

Federal agencies, including the Secret Service use MPD’s camera network to provide surveillance and security during national events, including presidential inaugurations.

“The Secret Service and MPD quickly ensured that the surveillance camera system was secure and operational prior to the Inauguration,” according to a release from the Justice Department. It said that the investigation showed “no evidence that any person’s physical security was threatened or harmed due to the disruption of the MPD surveillance cameras.”

Cismaru and her codefendant Isvanca were arrested Dec. 15, 2017, in Bucharest, Romania. Cismaru fled Romania weeks after her arrest and was later apprehended in the United Kingdom on March 23, 2018, and extradited to the United States on July 26, 2018. Isvanca, also of Romania, remains held there pending extradition to the United States.

The charges against Cismaru of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud carry statutory maximum prison sentences of 20 and five years respectively. She will be sentenced Dec. 3, 2018.

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