Steamship Authority hit by ransomware attack

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Steamship Authority Ferry. WWLP file image

(WWLP & SHNS) – Passengers going to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard via the Steamship Authority may have to deal with possible delays Wednesday, due to a ransomware attack.

The ferry service posted on their official Twitter account Wednesday that the attack is affecting their operations, and that a team of IT professionals is currently working to assess the impact of the attack. More information is expected to be released once that initial assessment is completed.

The Steamship Authority’s website remained inaccessible around midday. As a result, passengers cannot book or reschedule vehicle reservations online or by phone. The Authority posted its ferry schedules to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket on social media to help those who cannot load the website.

Any existing reservations will be honored, and all rescheduling and cancellation fees will be waived, the organization said. “If traveling with the Authority today, cash is preferred for all transactions. The availability of credit card systems to process vehicle and passenger tickets, as well as parking lot fees, is limited,” officials said in their statement. “Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”

Ransomware attacks have become an increasing problem in the United States, with JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier, falling victim to such an attack this week. Last month, gas stations across the southeastern United States ran out of gas after a ransomware attack on the Colonial pipeline. The incident also comes less than two months after a malware attack on Wisconsin-based Applus Technologies, a vendor that several states including Massachusetts use, shut down vehicle inspections for several weeks.

The Steamship Authority is the largest ferry line operating between Cape Cod and the Islands with an operating budget of nearly $112 million in 2020 and typically transports millions of passengers per year to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. They are a major lifeline connecting the islands, their tens of thousands of year-round residents and even more travelers with the rest of Massachusetts.

“We’ve been in touch with the State Police and the Steamship Authority, and will continue to monitor the situation,” Rep. Dylan Fernandes, a Falmouth Democrat who represents Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and parts of Barnstable County, wrote in a Wednesday tweet. “The boats are not impacted and passenger service remains as scheduled but may experience delays.”

In a ransomware attack, hackers encrypt files, and threaten to delete them or continue to hold them hostage until a ransom is paid.

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