Ransomware assault hits ferry to Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Winery

A Steamship Authority ferry from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard is pictured in Woods Hole, MA.

David L. Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Steamship Authority of Massachusetts ferry service fell victim to a ransomware attack on Wednesday, the latest cyber attack affecting logistics and services in the United States.

The Steamship Authority is the largest ferry company offering daily fares from Cape Cod to the neighboring islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts, according to the company’s website.

“The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority have been the target of a ransomware attack affecting operations since Wednesday morning,” the company wrote in a statement, adding that customers could experience delays.

According to the company, a “team of IT experts” is investigating the effects of the cyber attack.

The attack comes as summer tourists flock to the Massachusetts resorts.

The Steamship Authority did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. A U.S. Coast Guard District 1 spokesman said the matter was being investigated and declined to provide further details.

Ransomware attacks involve malware that encrypts files on a device or network, causing the system to become inoperable. Criminals behind such cyberattacks usually demand a ransom in exchange for the release of data.

The ransomware attack on the ferry service follows a cyberattack on Sunday on Brazil’s JBS, the world’s largest meat packer. The violation disrupted meat production in North America and Australia and sparked concerns about rising meat prices.

On Tuesday, the company said it had made “significant strides in resolving the cyberattack” and that the “vast majority” of beef, pork, poultry and ready-to-eat food operations would be back in operation by Wednesday, according to a statement.

The White House said Tuesday that the ransomware attack on JBS was believed to have originated from a criminal organization based in Russia.

Last month, a cyber criminal group called DarkSide struck the jugular artery of the American fuel pipeline with a widespread ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline.

The cyberattack forced the company to shut down a pipeline roughly 5,500 miles long, causing fuel disruption on the east coast and gasoline shortages in the southeast.

Colonial Pipeline paid the ransom to hackers, a source familiar with the situation, CNBC confirmed.

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