Clickability tracking pixel

Hackers Demand $200K from Washington Port to Unlock Data

Hackers are demanding a $200,000 ransom after placing an encryption lock on the Port of Kennewick's computer servers and files, the port said Tuesday, but the FBI is directing the port to not pay the ransom.

by Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald / November 18, 2020

(TNS) — Hackers are demanding a $200,000 ransom after placing an encryption lock on the Port of Kennewick's computer servers and files, the port said Tuesday.

Under the direction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and advice from technology professionals, the port will not be paying the ransom.

There is no guarantee that hackers would deliver an encryption key to restore access if the port were to pay, it said.

Instead, it is working with the FBI and restoring the functioning of the port's technology system, including rebuilding digital files from offline backups and bringing back access to the port's email server, which is currently offline.

The port's technology contractor does not believe that individual data has been compromised.

The goal of the attack appears to be to lock the servers to persuade the port to pay a ransom rather than accessing the information on the servers, according to the port.

The cyber attack was sophisticated, using "military-grade encryption," according to the port. Neither the FBI or the Washington state Office of Cyber Security know of a decoder for it.

The port's information technology contractor expected to work through the night Tuesday to restore email functioning by Wednesday. Re-establishing off-line data will take longer — likely a matter of days — in part because the contractor has been providing information requested by the FBI.

Along with restoration of the computer data, additional security and protection will be added to the port's system.

The cost of recovering from the cyber attack will depend on the time needed for the contractor to repair damage.

Tana Bader Inglima , the port's deputy chief executive, said the port has made regular upgrades to the port's servers and its security and anti-virus software through its information technology contractor and with the guidance of an IT consultant.

The consultant advises the port on computer technology and helps provide contractor oversight.

(c)2020 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Looking for the latest gov tech news as it happens? Subscribe to GT newsletters.

E.REPUBLIC Platforms & Programs