A ransomware attack on the Steamship Authority of Massachusetts hampered operations Wednesday, and officials expect the situation to continue Thursday.
The largest ferry service to the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, the Steamship Authority issued a statement warning that traveling customers may be delayed as a result.
"The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority was the target of a ransomware attack early Wednesday, June 2, 2021," the company said. "The Authority continues to work internally, as well as with federal, state and local authorities, to determine the extent and origin of the attack."
A "team of IT professionals" is working to assess the impact of the cyber attack, according to the authority.
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In an update Thursday evening, the Steamship Authority said it believed online and phone reservations would continue to be impacted by the attack Thursday.
"The Steamship Authority will continue to honor existing reservations at Authority terminals, and rescheduling and cancellation fees will be waived," spokesperson Sean Driscoll said in a statement. "Scheduled trips to and from the islands continue to operate safely as scheduled, although some delays in the ticketing process may occur."
Driscoll added that reservations cannot be booked or changed by phone or online, recommending the use of cash for ticketing and parking.
The Steamship Authority said earlier that "there is no impact to the safety of vessel operations," as the issue does not affect radar or GPS functionality. Scheduled trips to both islands continue to operate, with delays possible related to the ticketing process.
Customers are currently unable to book or change reservations online or by phone. Cash is preferred for all transactions on Wednesday, the authority added.
The attack comes just days after Massachusetts lifted its COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and mask mandate and right at the start of the state's summer tourism season.
The Steamship Authority said additional information will be provided as it becomes available.
Ransomware attacks involve malware that encrypts files on a device or network that results in the system becoming inoperable. Criminals behind these types of cyberattacks typically demand a ransom in exchange for the release of data.
Several major U.S. companies have been victims of cyberattacks recently.
JBS Foods, a major meat processing company, said this week it had been affected by a cyberattack that shut down processing plants in North America and Australia.
A cyberattack last month on the Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, forced its closure and led to long lines and panic buying at gas stations in the Southeast.