Ransomware spoils island holidays to Nantucket, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard

Holiday-goers are airing frustrations after ransomware hackers disrupted ferry services linking Martha's Vineyard to mainland Massachusetts.

Ferry services from mainland Boston to a number of New England islands have suffered nearly a week of disruptions after a ransomware attack on local company The Steamship Authority.

The Boston-based ferry operator tweeted Monday to confirm online ticketing and reservation systems remain offline, under the control of an unnamed hacking group.

Passengers hoping to head from mainland Massachusetts to Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod can still climb aboard but should expect delays.

  • The Steamship Authority disclosed the ransomware attack last Wednesday.
  • Services continue to run as the hackers didn’t hit GPS and radar systems.
  • Customers were told they should pay for tickets with cash.

Ransomware encrypts computer systems and hackers demand ransoms for a special tool to regain access.

Hackers usually request Bitcoin but some accept Monero (even at a discount). The Steamship Authority is yet to confirm the size of the ransom — or which crypto was requested.

In a press conference on Friday, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey tried to link the ransomware attack to Russia.

A representative for Markey later rolled back those comments. They told the MV Times: “He does not have that intelligence.”

Ransomware hackers pivot to tourism

Recently, hackers have shut down the world’s largest meat processor JBS and even crippled US gas supply by hitting Georgia-headquartered Colonial Pipeline.

The US is now stepping up responses to future ransomware incidents following the attack on Colonial Pipeline.

[Read more: Colonial Pipeline forgets to mention it already paid $5M Bitcoin to hackers]

According to a Department of Justice guidance seen by Reuters, local ransomware investigators will now collaborate with a task force in Washington.

Authorities employ a similar approach to combat terrorism.

According to a Chainalysis CryptoCrime report, ransomware victims forked over $350 million in cryptocurrency in 2020, up over 300% year-on-year.

You can watch this livestream of the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard… I guess.

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