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Muni guarantees customer data not at risk as hacker sends new threat

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Muni computer systems were compromised late Friday after an SFMTA employee apparently downloaded what is called “ransomware,” a form of malware that allows an attacker to lock up a victim’s computers, and demand a ransom to release them for use. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)
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The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has guaranteed its transit customers are not at risk amid a malware attack over the weekend that targeted Muni, San Francisco’s public transit system.

The alleged attacker has demanded $73,000 in ransom for stolen city data.

SEE RELATED: Alleged Muni ‘hacker’ demands $73,000 ransom, some computers in stations restored

“Personal information of Muni customers were not compromised as part of this incident,” Paul Rose, a spokesperson for the SFMTA, said Monday.

“We’ve never considered paying the ransom,” he added, “because we have in-house staff capable of recovering all systems, and we’re doing that now.”

SEE RELATED: ‘You Hacked’ appears at Muni stations as fare payment system crashes

There are many ways the SFMTA collects identifiable information, such as payment of parking tickets, or paying Muni fares via its mobile app, Muni Mobile.

Muni computer systems were compromised late Friday after an SFMTA employee apparently downloaded what is called “ransomware,” a form of malware that allows an attacker to lock up a victim’s computers, and demand a ransom to release them for use.

However, despite Rose’s guarantee of customer safeguards, the alleged malware attacker –– known only by a pseudonym, “Andy Saolis” –– issued a new threat to Muni via news agencies claiming customer data was compromised.

“But if ugly hacker’s attack to Operational Railways System’s, what happen to You?” the alleged attacker wrote, “Anyone See Something like that in Hollywood Movies But it’s Completely Possible in Real World!”

The alleged attacker wrote they gained access through a Windows 2000 PC server at the SFMTA including “all payment kiosk and internal automation and Email,” and threatened to release 30 gigabytes worth of contracts, employee data, “LLD plans,” customer data, and more.

The SFMTA’s deadline to pay the ransom is Friday, the alleged attacker said, though previously the deadline was Monday.

The alleged attacked said they are not attempting to gain control of train operations, which are run by computer.

Saolis did not say what customer data they had, specifically.

Hoodline obtained a list of about 2,000 computers in the control of the alleged attacker (out of SFMTA’s 8,000 or so computer systems), which may give some indication of the data the attackers have at their fingertips.

Among them were a computer belonging to Kate Toran, head of SFMTA taxi services, Muni “CCTVS” which may stand for Closed Circuit TV (a surveillance system), Muni HR-DMV, and a computer named “DATSERVICES.”

Another computer, MUNIFLYNN, may contain data from Muni’s Flynn Division, a bus yard.

Rose said he had not seen the list of computers.

“Our firewalls were never penetrated,” Rose said, and reiterated that the SFMTA would not pay the ransom.

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