Massachusetts Steamship Authority hit by cyberattack

A team of IT professionals are currently assessing the impact of the attack.

Guests traveling to Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket using ferry service from the Massachusetts Steamship Authority should expect delays after the company announced it has been the target of a ransomware attack Wednesday morning that is affecting operations. 

The company’s website, which allows passengers to book reservations, current displays a message stating that the company has “run into an error we weren’t able to recover from.” The Steamship Authority said that a team of IT professionals were assessing the impact of the attack. 

In an update at 12:30 p.m., the ferry service said there has been “no impact to the safety of vessel operations, as the issue does not affect radar or GPS functionality.”

“Scheduled trips to both islands continue to operate, although customers may experience some delays during the ticketing process,” the company added. “Customers are currently unable to book or change vehicle reservations online or by phone.”

The company noted it will honor existing reservations at Authority terminals and waive rescheduling and cancellation fees. It also advised customers to use cash for all transactions, emphasizing that the availability of credit card systems to process vehicle and passenger tickets and parking lot fees is limited.

The Steamship Authority is the latest business to be hit in a recent wave of cyberattacks.

The Colonial Pipeline hack, the most notable cyberattack of 2021, temporarily shut down a 5,500-mile pipeline system that transports more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil per day, or roughly 45% of fuel consumed across the East Coast, between the Gulf Coast and New York metro area. The attack prompted widespread panic buying that led to gas shortages at over 1,000 fueling stations across the East Coast. 

Russian ransomware group Darkside was held responsible for the Colonial Pipeline hack and was paid a ransom of $4.4 million, according to Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount. Darkside had reaped more than $90 million from 47 victims before ceasing operations following the attack.

On Tuesday, a cyberattack shuttered the operations of nine beef plants run by the world’s largest meat producer, JBS, which produce nearly one-quarter of U.S. beef supplies. The company’s US-based pork plants are still operational. In total, JBS employs more than 66,000 workers across 84 US-based locations.

The attack raised concerns of a potential meat shortage in the U.S. and several other countries impacted by the situation. It wasn’t immediately clear how the shutdown would affect meat prices.

The White House said it was aware of the situation and indicated a criminal group likely based in Russia was believed to be responsible.

“JBS notified the administration that the ransom demand came from a criminal organization likely based in Russia,” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing. “The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals,” 

JBS USA CEO Andre Nogueira said Tuesday that he expected the “vast majority” of the company’s processing facilities to be operational by Wednesday. JBS noted it was “able to ship product from nearly all of its facilities to supply customers” on Tuesday despite the interruption to its operations and that it had made “significant progress” in their efforts to resolve the attack. 

Current ferry operating schedules are available on the Steamship Authority’s social media pages. 

The Steamship Authority continues to work internally with federal, state and local authorities, to determine the extent and origin of the attack and will provide additional updates as they become available. 

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