The New York City Police Department’s fingerprint database was temporarily brought down by a virus last year from a contractor’s computer, according to the New York Post.
The contractor — who was at the police academy in Queens to set up a digital display — unknowingly uploaded a virus to 23 machines connected to the NYPD’s LiveScan fingerprint tracking system on October 5th, 2018.
Police became aware of the breach within hours, and according to Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology Jessica Tisch, contacted the department’s cyber command and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
“We wanted to get to the bottom of this,” Tisch said, adding that officials were particularly concerned about whether the virus was “plugged in maliciously”.
The ransomware virus that was uploaded never actually executed, though out of caution the NYPD shut LiveScan down that evening and proceeded to reinstall software on 200 machines citywide. According to Tisch, by early morning the next day the system was being brought back online.
Though the NYPD managed to avoid a major catastrophe in this case, experts stress that public database security breaches are a growing concern.
“There’s always a concern that, if there’s a breach, that information would be stolen,” said Adam Scott Wandt, a professor of cyber security at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. “Hackers might be able to find out what type of open cases are out there.”
Just this past January, hackers managed to breach the Oklahoma Department of Securities database, exposing millions of government files including FBI investigations dating as far back as 1986.
“It’s a fairly complex world that we live in,” Wandt added. “Everything is linked together. Government normally does a fairly good job of keeping hackers out, but every now and then there is a breach.”
The NYPD’s LiveScan database was recently the subject of criticism, when it was revealed they illegally had obtained and stored tens of thousands of youth fingerprints, before finally deleting them from their systems just a few weeks ago.
Source: New York Post
November 26, 2019 – by Tony Bitzionis