Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) acknowledged Tuesday that its systems had been breached by hackers, who claimed to have stolen some of the department’s data files while demanding a ransom.

In a statement to NBC News, a police spokesperson confirmed the breach and indicated that the FBI was assisting in the investigation.

“We are aware of unauthorized access on our server,” said the spokesperson. “While we determine the full impact and continue to review activity, we have engaged the FBI to fully investigate this matter.”

A report from The New York Times indicated that the hackers appeared to be affiliated with Babuk, a known spreader of ransomware that is used to lock up private or sensitive information before hackers demand payments in cash, or more frequently Bitcoin, to release it.

Babuk emerged earlier this year, according to a threat analysis by global cybersecurity firm McAfee, and recruits followers on Russian-speaking forums. The group has reportedly been responsible for at least five high-profile breaches of companies this year.

While the group’s political aims, if any, remain unclear, McAfee warns that members of the group have explicitly positioned themselves as opponents of racial justice and civil rights movements.

Babuk members “have explicitly expressed themselves negatively against the Black Lives Matter (BLM) and LGBT communities,” reads McAfee’s analysis.

The Hill has reached out to MPD for further comment on the hack.


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