Sacramento Regional Transit Hackers Demand $8K Bitcoin Ransom

It has been a while since we last heard anything about hackers demanding a Bitcoin ransom. In Sacramento, hackers have successfully attacked the public transit system and are now demanding a US$8,000 ransom to be paid in Bitcoin. Whether or not SacRT will honor their demand remains highly unlikely at this point. It is never in anyone’s best interest to meet hackers’ demands, especially when it comes to Bitcoin.

Another Hacking Attempt to Obtain Bitcoin

If there is one trend we have seen emerge over the past few months, it is how criminals tend to disrupt public services in an effort to obtain payment. Usually, the ransom must be paid in Bitcoin, which gives the world’s leading cryptocurrency a bad name. The big question is whether or not SacRT will comply with this demand, though. It would certainly not be in the agency’s best interest to simply cough up the money.

This debacle unfolded earlier this week. Unknown assailants targeted the Sacramento Regional Transit system infrastructure. Not only did they erase critical data, but they also threatened to do even more harm unless their demand was met. Forcing SacRT to pay US$8,000 in Bitcoin – which isn’t even one full BTC at current prices – is not necessarily something that will go over all that well.

This attack erased parts of computer programs which affect the internal operations of Sacramento Regional Transit. It is unclear how the hackers gained access to these systems or obtained the necessary privileges to cause so much harm. One logical explanation is that this may have been an inside job, although it seems highly unlikely that such people would be satisfied with US$8,000 worth of Bitcoin. Anyone holding a grudge would surely ask for at least a quarter million dollars.

As a result of the hack, staffers are currently unable to dispatch employees and assign buses to routes. This creates a major problem for the day-to-day operations of SacRT. Resolving this problem is the top priority, but for now, it seems the agency is looking for ways to do so without paying the ransom. So far, it seems no data has been stolen, which makes this hacking attempt seem a lot less professional than what people expected at first.

So far, no major bus and rail operations have been impacted by the hack either. It seems someone successfully infiltrated the systems of SacRT but failed to do any major damage. This means there is no reason to pay the Bitcoin ransom, although it remains to be seen how everything will play out. The agency has shut down its credit card payment processing system until the matter is resolved.

The bigger question is why anyone would attack SacRT and not do any damage in the process. While it is good to see that no real damage has been done, it also makes one wonder how the criminals were able to access these critical systems in the first place. It seems that is a far more trivial matter than actually disrupting public services throughout Sacramento. This will be an interesting story to keep an eye on over the coming weeks and months.