Steamship Authority: Ransomware attack slowing ferry service

Business News

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (WPRI/AP) — Ferry service between mainland Massachusetts and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket is being slowed by a ransomware cyberattack.

Steamship Authority tweeted Wednesday that it has been the target of a ransomware attack that is affecting operations and causing delays.

The state agency said a team of IT professionals is currently assessing the impact of the attack.

The Steamship Authority said customers are currently unable to book or change vehicle reservations by online or phone.

Existing reservations will be honored at their terminals. Rescheduling and cancelation fees will be waived, Steamship added.

Steamship expects service to continue to be affected Thursday. The company assured there is no impact to the safety of the vessel operations because the ransomware attack does not affect radar or their GPS.

“Scheduled trips to both islands continue to operate, although customers may experience some delays during the ticketing process,” the company wrote.

The company said the availability of credit card systems when paying for tickets as well as parking lot fees is limited, so cash is currently preferred for all transactions.

A team of IT professionals is assessing the impact of the attack, according to Steamship.

“The Steamship Authority continues to work with our team internally, as well as with local, state, and federal officials externally, to address today’s ransomware incident,” the company said.

A ransomware attack is a type of malicious software that threatens to publish or block access to data or a computer system, usually by encrypting it, until the victim pays a ransom fee to the attacker.

“I am concerned about the pervasiveness of these attacks and my concern is that all these attacks could have been far worse,” Rep. Jim Langevin said, referring to the recent attacks.

Having strong passwords, updating security software and having authentication turned on can help avoid these types of attacks, according to Langevin.

“Companies certainly should back up there systems, so that if they’re hit with a ransomware attack like this they can hopefully reconstitute without having to pay the ransom,” he explained.

Langevin said he’s asked for an additional $400 million for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

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