Cyber Attacks Hit Port of San Diego Systems For BTC Ransom

According to recent reports, the California-based public benefit corporation known as the Port of San Diego, has recently fallen victim to a cyber attack on the 25th of September, demanding ransom in return for access to internal systems.


Cyber Hackers Demand Ransom in Cryptocurrency

Official reports have not offered details regarding the strain of ransomware used to attack the corporation nor the amount requested for ransom, however, it was stated that the hackers demand payments in the form of BTC.  

According to statements reporting the effects of the attack last Tuesday, internal systems responsible for managing requests for public records, permits, in addition to a variety of administrative tasks had all been infected. The Port’s Chief Executive Officer, Randa Coniglio, explained that despite suffering this attack, the corporation remains open for business with operations pertaining to public safety underway as well as the Bay access for boats and shipments.  

Although the exact ransomware used to target the corporation is yet to be declared, a message left by the hackers was reported to have demanded bitcoin payments of an unconfirmed quantity. In order to avoid further infection from the virus, company heads ordered similar internal systems to be temporarily turned off. The Port is currently working alongside FBI officials and the DHS in order to proceed with investigations.

Although Coniglio refrained from answering detailed questions concerning the cyber attack, she stressed the point that this issue is directed towards administrative operations allowing normal port management to continue regularly.

A Rise in Ransomware Attacks Across Public Service Sector

Other events of ransomware targeting public services occurred making this the most recent attack. Earlier this year, a SamSam strain attacked Atlanta city affecting internal systems in municipal governments demanding more than $50,000. The very same strain was also used to target LabCorp this July, among the largest global laboratories for clinical research. The virus enters computer systems with codes that shut down and lock computer internal systems. In order to regain access, demands of funds such as digital assets must be met.

Experts in the security field urge companies not to comply with demands, stating that affected systems are never fully unlocked. Research concludes that viruses initially infiltrate internal systems via phishing emails as well as hacking weaker passwords associated with internal access. For corporations such as the San Diego Port, which manages the Bay stretching thirty-four miles, serious implications of such an attack could be dire if not maintained.

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