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Ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard targeted by ransomware attack

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The largest ferry service to the islands of Martha’s Vineyard was the target of a ransomware attack Wednesday morning, the company said on social media. The cyberattack is the third notable U.S. cyber breach within the last month. 

“The Authority continues to work internally, as well as with federal, state and local authorities, to determine the extent and origin of the attack,” Steamship Authority tweeted. “… There is no impact to the safety of vessel operations, as the issue does not affect radar or GPS functionality,” the company said. 

The company said it is still running scheduled trips to and from the islands, but, “Customers are currently unable to book or change vehicle reservations online or by phone. As of Wednesday afternoon, the service’s official website was not working, saying only that it is currently unavailable and that the company is “working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

The company said anyone traveling on its ferries in the near future should use cash as “the availability of credit card systems to process vehicle and passenger tickets, as well as parking lot fees, is limited.”

The cyberattack comes in the same week that the world’s largest meat supplier, JBS, was hit with a cyberattack from what they said was a group likely based in Russia. JBS shut down production at 13 plants in U.S. on Tuesday, but said most would be back up and running on Wednesday.

A Steamship Authority ferry from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard is pictured in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, on May 11, 2018.

David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Last month, the largest refined oil pipeline system in the country was the target of a ransomware attack conducted by what the FBI said was a criminal gang known as DarkSide. The cyberattack resulted in the company taking some systems offline, prompting a bout of panic buying in parts of the U.S. and leading to a temporary gas shortage for 50 million Americans.

Theresa Payton, CEO of cybersecurity firm Fortalice Solutions and a former U.S. chief information officer in the Bush administration, told CBS News that groups like DarkSide have “created ransomware as a service. They are a commercial enterprise … It’s almost like a digital mafia pyramid scheme.”

Payton also said the recent growth in ransomware as the “carbon-monoxide poisoning of our cybersecurity,” noting that it’s expansion has been “silent” and “deadly.”  

Musadiq Bidar contributed reporting.



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