The department appears to be the third police force to be targeted in a ransomware attack in six weeks, and the 26th government agency hit this year. Hacked data from the Washington, D.C., Police Department started leaking onto the internet on Monday, making it the third police department in the United States to be hit by cybercriminals in six weeks.

The attack appeared to add another high-profile victim to what has become a digital plague in the United States. Since the start of 2021, 26 government agencies have been hit by ransomware, and 16 of those have been the targets of a novel extortion attack in which cybercriminals do not just hold data hostage, but leak it online when victims refuse to pay.

The spate of attacks comes as the Biden administration is trying to step up the nation’s cyber defenses after a series of devastating and far-ranging hackings, including by foreign adversaries, against the federal government and a range of defense contractors, companies and other institutions in the United States. An executive order, meant as something of a first step, is expected soon from the White House. As part of this leak, the ransomware gang posted screenshots of various folders they allegedly stole during the attack. The folder names appear to contain a lot of files related to operations, disciplinary records, and files related to gang members and ‘crews’ operating in DC.

The ransomware gang warned on the data leak page that the MPD has 3 days to contact them or the threat actors will start contacting gangs to warn them of police informants. “The attackers are utilizing stolen data in more extreme ways,” Mr. Callow said. “In this case, they’re threatening to release informant data to gangs. In others, they have contacted customers directly asking them to pressure victims into paying, to stop their personal data from being released.”

Mr. Callow said. “The situation will continue to get worse and worse until governments develop an effective strategy,”