During Thanksgiving weekend 2016, workers at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) received a rude awakening about just how powerfully cybercrime can affect the "real" world.

On Nov. 26, the SFMTA discovered it was the victim of a malicious ransomware attack that froze all of its office computers, internal computer systems and computers inside station agent booths, where an ominous message flashed across computer monitors: "You Hacked. ALL data encrypted."

If that scenario sounds like fiction, it isn't. The perpetrator demanded the transit agency pay 100 bitcoin (about $73,000 in real-world funds) to have its system returned to normal. Ransomware attacks occur when a user unknowingly downloads the malicious software (or "malware") on their computer, control of which is then seized by the party who sent the ransomware. The ransom is then requested.

Continue Reading for Free

Register and gain access to:

  • Breaking insurance news and analysis, on-site and via our newsletters and custom alerts
  • Weekly Insurance Speak podcast featuring exclusive interviews with industry leaders
  • Educational webcasts, white papers, and ebooks from industry thought leaders
  • Critical converage of the employee benefits and financial advisory markets on our other ALM sites, BenefitsPRO and ThinkAdvisor

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Shawn Moynihan

Shawn Moynihan is Editor-in-Chief of National Underwriter Property & Casualty. A St. John’s University alum, Moynihan has earned 11 Jesse H. Neal Awards, the Pulitzers of the business press; seven Azbee Awards, from the American Society of Business Press Editors; two Folio Awards; and a SABEW award, from the Society of American Business Editors & Writers. Prior to joining ALM, he served as Managing Editor/Online Editor of journalism institution Editor & Publisher, the trade bible of the newspaper industry. Moynihan also has held editorial positions with AOL, Metro New York, and Newhouse Newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected].