Our world is growing increasingly connected, and while most people have reaped the benefits of interconnectivity, ranging from social networks to Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the lack of security features that scale with the growing network. The cyberattack on the Port of San Diego has shown that cybersecurity is needed at all levels of society now.
On September 25th, Randa Coniglio, the Port of San Diego’s CEO, said in a press release that the Port suffered a “serious cybersecurity incident.” The attack comes hot on the heels of a cybersecurity attack on the Port of Barcelona that happened on September 20th. Neither port authority revealed any specific details about the nature of the cyber-attacks.
While the attack on the Port of Barcelona did not affect ship movements to and from the harbor, local Catalan newspaper Ara reported land operations, such as loading and unloading of boats, have been affected.
Conversely, the attack on the Port of San Diego has affected services. “Port employees are currently at work, but have limited functionality, which may have temporary impacts on service to the public, especially in the areas of park permits, public records requests, and business services,” Coniglio said.
The attackers employed ransomware for San Diego, and have demanded for payment in bitcoins, but San Diego’s port authority did not disclose the amount. What makes ransomware attacks effective is that they encrypt computers and cut off access to basic functions until the victims pay the hackers. City officials neither have the resources to pay the ransom, or follow the US government protocol with refusing to negotiate with terrorists and criminals, as was the case with the WannaCry attack.
As of early October, 2018, a Port of San Diego spokeswoman said that they are working with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on investigating the attack.
“We have been in contact with the Port of San Diego and have offered our technical support and assistance, as we do whenever we become aware of a potential cyber incident affecting a critical infrastructure partner,” Scott McConnell, a DHS spokesman, said in an email to CNET.
The Bottom Line
As society becomes more reliant on connectivity and more sophisticated technology, so do the means to take advantage of that connectivity and cause major disruption to essential services. While the Port of Barcelona has not reported significant disruptions to services, the Port of San Diego’s cybersecurity ransomware attack, which took place only five days later, has had impacts on public services. Such an attack continues to underscore the need for more cybersecurity measures.
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