This weekend, the San Francisco Municipal Transport Authority (SFMTA) became the target of a cyberattack as hackers infected and took over more than 2,000 of the 8,656 computers used to operate San Francisco’s public transport system, forcing SFMTA to open the gates and allow passengers to ride for free.

Monitors displayed the message, “you hacked, ALL data encrypted,” and instructed the user to send a ransom of 100 Bitcoin, or about $74,000 to a Russian email address.

sfmta  San Francisco’s Transit System Hit by Ransomware Attack: Passengers Get Free Rides sfmta

                   Image: KPIX 5

Database servers, email, staff training, and payroll systems were all affected by the attack.

To cope, the SFMTA resorted to assigning routes to bus drivers via hand-written notes on bulletin boards. By Sunday, station ticket machines were up and running again.

This incident merely highlights the potential damage a serious cyberattack on major infrastructure could cause. It once again reinforces the importance of ensuring that security catches up with the growth of the smart ecosystem.