Port of San Diego Hit with Crypto Ransomware Attack

Officials report that the Port of San Diego has been hit with a ransomware attack demanding Bitcoin payments. Port CEO Randa Congiglio told ABC that a fraction of the port’s information technology systems were compromised before staff members shut down other systems out of caution. The specific amount of Bitcoin demanded in the attack has yet to be disclosed by port officials, nor has the identity of the hackers.

“What we’ve seen in the last 12 months is more of this targeted attack on organizations,” said Stephen Cobb, senior security researcher at San Diego Cyber security Firm ESET. “It is difficult for government organizations to necessarily get the budget as quickly as they need to put defenses in place, but on the other side, they have essential services.”

In the era in which ‘cryptojacking’ has become the king of cybercrime, large scale ransomware attacks like the one reported in San Diego are becoming increasingly less common. According to reports conducted by Kaspersky Labs, the number of users who have encountered instances of ransomware has fallen by almost 30 percent, down from 2,581,026 in 2016-2017 to 1,811,937 in 2017-2018. Conversely, the Kaspersky Labs report goes on to show that instances of cryptojacking have increased by almost 44.5 percent, from 1,899,236 in 2016-2017 to 2,735,611 in 2017-2018.

Nevertheless, yesterday’s attack serves as a frustrating reminder that crypto crime continues to be an ominous threat in all its guises. ABC reports that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials joined the Port of San Diego’s investigation into the attack. Local, state and federal partners, including the US Coast Guard, have also been brought in to restore compromised systems. While public safety operations are ongoing, ABC reports that ships and boats working out of the Port of San Diego have not been affected.

“The temporary impacts on service to the public are in the areas of park permits, public records requests, and business services,” said Coniglio.

The Port of San Diego has been ranked by the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics as one of America’s top 30 US containership ports, supporting the operations of cargo and cruise terminals, hotels, restaurants, marinas, museums and 22 parks stretching along the 34 miles of the San Diego Bay.

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