Muni, San Francisco’s transit system, is back to normal after being hit by hackers who reportedly sought a $73,000 ransom.
This adds a whole new twist to the FOSS Force motto: “Keeping Tech Free.”
It seems that on Friday, right in the midst of busy Thanksgiving weekend holiday traffic, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency or Muni, was hit by hackers, forcing the system to offer Saturday free rides on the system’s light rail trains. The breach was apparently a ransomware attack, with the hackers demanding 100 Bitcoin, or approximately $73,000, to unencrypt the system.
It all began when the words “You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted” appeared on Muni agents’ screens. It’s not known whether Muni paid the ransom, although that’s considered unlikely. Operations of the system’s vehicles were not affected.
To keep the service operating and users moving, Muni employees scrambled and unlocked all turnstiles on Saturday, allowing riders, in the words of Edgar Winter, to “come on and take a free ride.”
“There’s no impact to the transit service, but we have opened the fare gates as a precaution to minimize customer impact,” Muni spokesperson Paul Rose said at the time. “Because this is an ongoing investigation it would not be appropriate to provide additional details at this point.
Everything is back to normal now, with Muni’s IT folks working to clean up the mess and make sure that no traces of the malware has been left behind.
“We are focused now on working to investigate the matter fully to find out all other details,” Rose said “But at this point there is no impact to transit service, to our security systems or to our customers’ private information.”
There may not be such a thing as a free lunch, but for one weekend in Baghdad by the Bay, there were free rides.