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The LA County Sheriff’s Department says more than ten cities within the county are dealing with Cyber Hacks and Ransomware, and that includes police departments.
"Basically all their systems have been jeopardized in some way or another. I'm talking about their financial records, anything that they have on their computers."
Captain Ed Alvarez is with the Sheriff's Cyber Crimes Bureau.
When were you first aware of this?
"I would believe that we were probably made aware of this probably eight to ten months ago."
Alvarez says the hacks are part of the BlueLeaks breach last summer in which more than a million documents from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies were released. Alvarez says typically computer systems are breached and then the hackers would wait, sometimes for months before extracting sensitive data. Sort of a 'wait for the dust to settle before striking' approach.
"And it seems, Steve from our standpoint, that there were always some kind of foreign nexus to these types of activities."
Any idea which countries we're talking about?
"It'd be fair to say that obviously Russia, China was also involved in some other ones. I would believe India would also be part of it."
Alvarez says his team just found out at least one agency in Orange County has also been breached.
KFI News reported last week on a breach at Azusa Police Department that affected confidential investigative information. But Alvarez says the overall breach has impacted more than ten cities and law enforcement agencies from as far north as Lancaster to as far south as Torrance. In fact, a source at the El Monte Police Department told me they were unable to process people who had been arrested and couldn't do simple background checks.
Now that you're aware that this is happening, these bad actors sort of lay in wait, and then they hit out of nowhere do you suppose this thing could get even bigger?
"Well, I would surmise, yes. This is huge. We've seen as recently as a few days ago with the pipeline situation, the meat-packing areas, you know, we need to do get a handle on everything that we're dealing with, with cyber compromises. It is going to be a team effort from, you know, from our partners on the federal side. Also, I believe that probably the military will be assisting us to get after these people that are basically holding cities and other entities hostage by doing these illegal acts and their compromises. It's very telling with the things that are going on over here in the United States."
So where are you at now? I mean, have you been able to to to wrap some of these things up? What's the status with those more than ten agencies?
"Well, obviously, Steve, it takes a lot of work. These are all active criminal investigations. All of them are. They're all still fluid. As we research and look at a lot of the data that was on these computers, we're able to review them and see if we have any nexus where we can identify any of these foreign actors to the point of identifying individuals that were involved in this. It is very fluid and hopefully we'll be able to go see them and surprise them with a little bit of our own law enforcement impact. They deserve it."