SF Muni Gives Free Rides for a Day After Getting Hacked for Ransom

SF Muni (Flickr / ki-rose / CC / Cropped)
Flickr / ki-rose / CC / Cropped

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s computer system was hacked on Friday, accompanied by a ransom request to restore services, prompting Muni to offer free rides to customers on Saturday.

According to the Hill, a hacker or group of hackers, who called themselves “Andy Saolis,” told reporters they were seeking 100 bitcoin — roughly $73,000 — to restore Muni services. The Hill notes that Andy Saolis encrypted files on more than 2,000 of the system’s 8,000 computers.

The attack was an act of ransomware.

“We are waiting for contact [from] any responsible person in SFMTA but I think they don’t want a deal,” the hackers reportedly told reporters on Sunday. “So we close this email [account] tomorrow.” The Muni hack reportedly included an email address for Andy Saolis where the hackers could communicate with Muni officials.

The San Francisco Chronicle notes that Muni’s decision to provide free transportation for the day was also a precaution to prevent any further hacking of the system or its patrons. Meanwhile, some riders also thought the free rides were part of a Black Friday deal.

“We are currently working to resolve the situation,” Muni spokesman Paul Rose reportedly said. He noted the message “You hacked” showed up on Muni agents’ computer screens Friday. They declined to confirm the hack, however.

According to a local CBS affiliate in San Francisco, inside sources say the system has been hacked for days.

The SFMTA is investigating the incident, and Rose told CBS that since the investigation is ongoing, he could not provide additional details. “Metro Free” signs and “Out of Service” messages appeared on ticketing machines and throughout the stations.

Employees are also victims of the hack; CBS notes SFMTA workers are not sure if they will get paid this week.

One rider told CBS the situation was “terrifying,” adding that “we’re not safe anywhere.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz.


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