Cybersecurity News & Updates: Weekend Hack On San Francisco Railways, Possibly By Russians, Should Cause Worry For Trump Administration

By KILAT , Updated Nov 30, 2016 04:14 AM EST

Ransomware is a computer virus or malware that infects a user's computer, usually encrypting files or causing software malfunctions. The malware is only removed if the files are decrypted and if the victim pays off the hacker. It is a growing problem in cybersecurity. 

Over the weekend hackers held 2,000 of San Francisco's Lightrail System for ransom, with a demand of 100 Bitcoins, that is approximately $70,000. Another public service sector affected with a ransomware was added to the list of victims of global extortionists.

This ransomware attack should be a reminder of how vulnerable American computer systems are. Earlier this year, president-elect Donald Trump refused to accept the US intelligence conclusion that the hackers behind the invasion of the Democratic National Committee computers.

Both private and public institutions across the globe have experienced a surge of attacks with ransomwares. Hackers linked to Russia and Eastern Europe has attacked nearly two-dozen hospitals in the US and a few medical device companies. This could be a concern in the cyber security under Trump's administration.

In March this year, hackers froze the computers of a police department in Melrose, Mass. Later, it was reported that the police department paid one Bitcoin or $70 to free its system from the ransomware.

The latest victim, San Francisco's Lightrail System, had their fare machines, email and payroll systems were under ransomware attack. MUNI deactivated the fare machines as a precaution to protect customer's information; as a result, San Francisco trains rides were free last Friday and Saturday.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said that once they found out that the customer's information was safe from the ransomware attack, fare machines were back on. No news on their other systems was revealed.

MUNI did not pay the ransom. They believe that the ransomware attack was not a work of the world's most professional hackers. The Bitcoin wallet that the hackers gave for their 100 Bitcoin ($70,000) ransom had a balance of less than $2.

Still, the number of attacks and the spike of usage in ransomware should be alarming. American cybersecurity should be ready to prevent or reverse these attacks.

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