Cyber-criminals engaging in cryptocurrency ransomware have found another victim: the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA). Suspected hackers have hijacked the computer servers of the American PGA and demanded a ransom in Bitcoin.
Details of the Hack
On Tuesday, August 7, the staff of the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America found that their systems had been compromised, and officials were locked out of crucial files related to upcoming PGA Championship events. A sinister message appeared on the screens, saying:
“Your network has been penetrated. All files on each host in the network have been encrypted with a strong algorithm [sic]. Any attempt to break the encryption could cause the loss of all of the work. This may lead to the impossibility of recovery of certain files.”
It became apparent that the hackers wanted money and wasted no time in stating their demands. A note was sent, saying that they alone had the decryption software to solve the problem. According to the hackers, there was no commercially available decryption program that could restore the PGA’s system.
The cybercriminals then proceeded to prove the efficacy of their decryption program by unlocking a couple of programs before sending an email stating that the PGA pay an unspecified amount in Bitcoin to restore their system completely.
According to an anonymous source, the PGA has no intentions of paying the hackers. The association has declined to comment on the hacking, and it is said that the PGA Championship has not been affected.
The Scourge of Cryptocurrency Ransomware
Ransomware attacks have increased tremendously since 2015. This is possibly because the hackers often get what they want.
In May 2017, the United Kingdom’s NHS hospitals were severely affected by what was known as the WannaCry ransomware attack. Parts of the NHS and businesses in 150 countries were affected worldwide, with over 230,000 computers attacked. The hackers demanded between $300 and $600 per computer. In total, the hackers withdrew about £108,000 in Bitcoin ransoms.
A Los Angeles hospital, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, was also a victim of a ransomware attack in February 2016. The attackers demanded 40 Bitcoins, which was at the time, $17,000.
In recent times, cryptojacking has become more prevalent than cryptocurrency ransomware attacks. Cryptojacking is the act of illegally siphoning the computing power of a user to mine cryptocurrencies.
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