Jun 2, 2021 - Technology

Hackers breached New York's transit agency systems in April

A subway train travels above ground as commuters wait for a train.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

A hacking group with supposed ties to the Chinese government breached the computer systems of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority in April, the New York Times reported Wednesday, citing MTA documents.

Why it matters: The revelation comes amid a surge of cyberattacks. "The breach was the third — and most significant — cyberattack on the transit network, North America’s largest, by hackers thought to be connected to foreign governments in recent years," the Times writes.

Details: The group appeared to attack the MTA's systems between two days in April — with the breach continuing until its presence was identified on April 20.

  • The hackers compromised three of 18 transit agency computer systems, officials said in a statement to the Times.
  • They added that the event did not pose a physical risk to riders or dramatically disturb service.
  • Yes, but: The incident "impeded operations, threatened to drain millions of dollars in ransom demands and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in forensic analyses after breaches were identified," the Times writes.

The big picture: It comes amid a significant uptick in cyberattacks on critical infrastructure across the U.S.

  • A ransomware attack on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in 2016 disrupted ticketing systems for three days.
  • A Philadelphia transit authority's operations were stalled by a ransomware attack last October, with the impact lasting for months.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Scott Rosenberg: Ransomware has recently become a "global pandemic" thanks to the rise of a profitable industry around it. In May, a similar attack on Colonial Pipeline, the U.S.'s largest refined-fuel pipeline operator, sent the Southeast into crisis.

Go deeper: Top meat supplier is the latest victim of a cyberattack.

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