A ransomware attack hit a ferry service between mainland Massachusetts and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Wednesday, officials said.

“The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority has been the target of a ransomware attack that is affecting operations as of Wednesday morning. As a result, customers traveling with us today may experience delays,” the Steamship Authority said on Twitter.

“A team of IT professionals is currently assessing the impact of the attack. Additional information will be provided upon completion of the initial assessment,” the agency said.

The incident led to ticketing and reservation disruptions.

“There is 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 agency said.

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Further information on the attack was not immediately available.

Ransomware has really hit the mainstream spotlight of late as some major U.S. companies have fallen victim to attacks.

JBS Foods, a major meat processing company, said this week it suffered an attack last weekend that shut down operations in North America and Australia.

In addition, a ransomware attack hit Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, forcing the company to shut down operations, which led to a huge panic purchase of gasoline from consumers.

“We should hope that the Steamship Authority of Massachusetts is prepared to respond to ransomware,” said PJ Norris, senior systems engineer at cybersecurity company Tripwire. “Certainly, the streak of successful attacks that seems to be dominating headlines recently indicates that an incident response plan has become more essential than ever. But while we tend to focus on the response to ransomware, prevention is still the best way to deal with the threat. Adopting new solutions can help organizations protect their assets, but it is by creating a solid cybersecurity foundation and hardening systems that the risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack can be minimized.

“This includes thorough training of employees about the threats that can come through their inbox, as phishing campaigns still manage to get around email filtering systems and unfortunately continue to be successful attack vectors. Patching vulnerabilities and ensuring that systems are configured securely is also essential. By getting the basics right, businesses will be making it harder and more costly for attackers to be effective with their threats.”


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