San Diego shut down by ransomware

A cyberattack on the Port of San Diego suspends public services.

On Wednesday, the Port of San Diego reported that it was hit by a cyberattack that seized up their information technology. On Thursday, the Port updated that info to confirm that the cyberattack was indeed ransomware.

In its official press release, the Port assures the public that it is partnering with the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, and the FBI to investigate the issue. “It is important to note,” the statement reads, “that this is mainly an administrative issue and normal Port operations are continuing as usual. The Port remains open, public safety operations are ongoing, and ships and boats continue to access the Bay without impacts from the cybersecurity incident.”

The press release goes on to state, “The temporary impacts on service to the public are in the areas of park permits, public records requests, and business services.” Port authorities have revealed that the ransom is demanded in Bitcoin, but they did not divulge the amount. This story is still developing.

San Diego now joins the growing list of government agencies and institutions to be paralyzed by a ransomware attack. Earlier this year, we reported on a devastating ransomware attack on the city of Atlanta, and last year saw the massive WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks.

Avast Cybersecurity Evangelist Luis Corrons remembers the NotPetya devastation. “This is not the first time this sector has been hit by ransomware,” he says. “Last year, the NotPetya attack affected Maersk, which had to be down for ten days without computers while they reinstalled everything on almost fifty thousand PCs and suffered losses around $300 million. Ransomware is one of the major threats facing SMBs, large enterprises, NGOs, and government organizations nowadays.”

Once ransomware is in your system, it’s rare that you’ll retrieve whatever files have been encrypted. More often than not, even when the ransom is paid, the cybercriminals fail to provide an effective decryption key. You can always see if one of our free decryption tools work, but the best defense is to keep ransomware out.

For individuals and businesses alike, you need to be vigilant and:

1 - Use an antivirus, which will block ransomware at the door.

2 - Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments in emails, especially from someone you don’t know.

3 - If you receive an email that seems out-of-the-norm, always close it and contact the company or sender directly to verify if the request or information you received is accurate.  

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