San Francisco Muni public transportation users got a surprise over the weekend: free rides courtesy of a hacker.
The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (MUNI) system was hit by ransomware over the weekend, making rides free throughout Friday night and Saturday. Buses, streetcars, Metro light rail and cable cars were affected with payment terminals across the system displaying ‘Out of Order’ in red digital text.
According to The San Francisco Examiner, computers in station agents’ booths also displayed “You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted. Contact For Key(firstname.lastname@example.org)ID:681 ,Enter.” The hacker responsible reportedly demanded $73,000 in Bitcoin to free the network of infection.
The Examiner made contact with the alleged hacker, who goes by the name Andy Saolis. Saolis told the publication on Sunday night that transit officials had yet to contact him.
“We do this for money, nothing else ! i hope it’s help to company to make secure IT before we coming !” Saolis wrote in an e-mail to the Examiner.
Some payment systems and station agency computers were back in operation on Sunday, although the system was not completely restored.
SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the hack was under investigation, but declined to provide further details.
The FBI described ransomware as an “insidious type of malware that encrypts, or locks, valuable digital files and demands a ransom to release them.”
“Ransomware attacks are not only proliferating, they’re becoming more sophisticated,” the FBI said. “Several years ago, ransomware was normally delivered through spam e-mails, but because e-mail systems got better at filtering out spam, cyber criminals turned to spear phishing e-mails targeting specific individuals. And in newer instances of ransomware, some cyber criminals aren’t using e-mails at all—they can bypass the need for an individual to click on a link by seeding legitimate websites with malicious code, taking advantage of unpatched software on end-user computers.”
The FBI recommends businesses and organizations invest in training for employees and robust technical prevention controls to prevent becoming a ransomware victim. The agency also suggested the creation of a “solid business continuity plan in the event of a ransomware attack.”
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.
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