March 2, 2024

A Steamship Authority ferry from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard is pictured in Woods Hole, MA.

David L. Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Steamship Authority of Massachusetts ferry service was victim of a ransomware attack on Wednesday, the most recent cyber attack affecting logistics and services in the United States.

The Steamship Authority is the largest ferry company offering daily fares from Cape Cod to the neighboring islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts, according to the company’s website.

“The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority have been the target of a ransomware attack affecting operations since Wednesday morning,” the company wrote in a statement, adding that customers could experience delays.

According to the company, a “team of IT experts” is investigating the effects of the cyber attack.

The attack comes as summer tourists begin to flock to the iconic Massachusetts vacation spots.

The Steamship Authority said in a statement to CNBC that it is working with federal, state and local authorities to determine the extent and origin of the ransomware attack.

“There is no safety impact on the ship as the issue does not affect radar or GPS functionality,” said Sean Driscoll, director of communications for the agency.

A US Coast Guard District 1 spokesman said the ransomware attack “posed no threat to passenger safety”.

The spokesman added that the U.S. Coast Guard District 1 is working with the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Unit and that the FBI is currently investigating.

A view of a Steamship Authority ferry approaches the Nantucket Terminal on April 25, 2020 in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Maddie Meyers | Getty Images

Ransomware attacks involve malware that encrypts files on a device or network, causing the system to become inoperable. Criminals behind such cyberattacks usually demand a ransom in exchange for the release of data.

The ransomware attack on the ferry service follows a cyberattack on Sunday on Brazil’s JBS, the world’s largest meat packer. The violation disrupted meat production in North America and Australia and sparked concerns about rising meat prices.

On Tuesday, the company said it had made “significant strides in resolving the cyberattack” and that the “vast majority” of beef, pork, poultry and ready-to-eat food operations would be back in operation by Wednesday, according to a statement.

The White House announced on Tuesday that the ransomware attack on JBS was believed to have originated from a criminal organization based in Russia.

Last month, a criminal cyber group called DarkSide struck the jugular artery of the American fuel pipelines with a widespread ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline.

The cyberattack forced the company to shut down a pipeline roughly 5,500 miles long, causing fuel disruption on the east coast and gasoline shortages in the southeast.

Colonial Pipeline paid the ransom to hackers, a source familiar with the situation, CNBC confirmed.