Ransomware Shuts Down 70 Percent of Washington Surveillance Cameras

Today's topics include the discovery that a ransomware attack shut down about 70 percent of Washington, DC's municipal security cameras, the IT industry’s response to Trump’s travel ban, Google’s moves to establish its own independent Root Certificate Authority and Snapchat’s preparations to release its initial public stock offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

For several days the week before the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 127 of the 183 networked video recorders used by police in Washington DC were off-line and unavailable to record video evidence.

According to an investigation by The Washington Post the video cameras were disabled by a ransomware attack during this period. The ransomware infection was discovered on Jan. 12, by the Metropolitan Police Department in DC, which then notified the city’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

The OCTO initially found four infected digital video recorders, but a sweep of the system turned up the full number. OCTO employees were able to simply erase the content of the digital video recorders and reinstall the operating software.

This allowed city employees to recover and regain access to their video surveillance recorders in three days, allowing everything to be up and running on Jan. 15, five days before the inauguration.

The IT industry is voicing concern about the executive order signed on Jan. 27 by U.S. President Donald Trump, which sparked protests at airports, a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and intervention from a federal court judge over the weekend.

The controversial measure bars citizens of seven countries with Muslim-majority populations—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—from entering the U.S. for 90 days. It also calls for a 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admission program and indefinite ban on refugees from Syria, among other restrictions.

In a Jan. 28 post on LinkedIn Pulse, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella commented on his company's stance on Trump's executive order.

"As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world," he wrote. "We will continue to advocate on this important topic."

Google has established an independent Root Certificate Authority so it can implement HTTPS across all of its services in a more efficient and expedient way. Google's new Trust Services entity will manage and deploy digital certificates for all Google and Alphabet services, the company said Friday in a blog.

The new unit will complement Google Internet Authority G2, the third-party subordinate Certificate Authority that Google has been relying on so far for its Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security certificate needs.

Snap Inc. reportedly plans to list its highly anticipated initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Snap's product, Snapchat, the social-network messaging app that turned down an offer four years ago from Facebook to be acquired for $3 billion, quietly filed for the IPO on Nov. 15, saying it is preparing to go public in March 2017.

Several news sources, including the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch and MarketWatch, reported Jan. 30 that the date would be made public this week. According to the reports, the March time frame reported by eWEEK and others last November still appears to be in the company's plans.

Snapchat, estimated to have about 150 million users worldwide, could be valued at $20 billion to $25 billion or more, making it the largest initial public offering since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. went public in 2014.

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