Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 11:21

Ransomware attacker has his email hacked


An attacker who hit the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency with a ransomware attack last week appears to have been dealt a dose of his own medicine.

According to a report at the KrebsOnSecurity website, last Friday people who use the SFMTA system, which is known as Muni, found "out of service" or "metro free" signs on all ticket machines.

The computer terminals at all Muni locations had a message from the attacker: “Contact for key ("

The person behind that email account claimed to have encrypted files on thousands of SFMTA computers and demanded 100 bitcoins (about US$73,000) to unlock the same.

Brian Krebs, who runs the website, said he had been contacted by a security researcher who said he had gained access to the attacker's email account by guessing the answer to the secret question and was thus able to reset the individual's password.

Emails in the account, supplied to Krebs by the researcher, indicated that the attacker in question had been indulging in the activity for quite some time.

While the attacker had been careful to use several Bitcoin wallets, he had been careless when it came to security questions and had provided correct information.

Krebs wrote that, by speaking to several other security experts, he had found out that the attacker had not specifically targeted SFMTA, but rather attacked the company because of vulnerabilities in the software it was using.

The detailed report written by Krebs is well worth a read.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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