Hackers Breach PGA Servers Ahead of Golf Championship, Demand Bitcoin

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Unknown hackers have taken aim at the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of America, demanding bitcoin in order to allow access to crucial files.

According to Golfweek, an attack on the computer servers belonging to the Professional Golfers’ Association of America has resulted in the officials of the sports body being denied access to critical files related to current and future PGA Championships. This includes the PGA Championship currently taking place between at the Bellerive Country Club in Missouri as well as next month’s Ryder Cup which will be held in France.

‘We Have Taken Over’

The employees of the golfing body realized their network had been compromised after receiving a message earlier this week informing them of the intrusion. The message also contained a bitcoin wallet address. Even though the hackers did not specify the ransom amount expected, they made it clear that the decryption software needed to access the files could only be obtained from them.

“We exclusively have decryption software for your situation. No decryption software is available in the public,” the hackers stated.

The compromised files were mostly creative materials for use in digital and print communications. Some of the files also included logos for future PGA Championships that had been in development for over 12 months. Sources, however, indicated that the PGA of America has no intentions of paying the bitcoin ransom, according to Golfweek.

Helpless

If PGA of America sticks to its guns, this would be in contrast to other high-profile victims of ransomware who have had to meet the extortionist demands. As CCN recently reported, research conducted by Sophos, a cybersecurity firm based in the United Kingdom, indicates that the ransomware known as SamSam has generated bitcoin worth more than US$6 million for its creator since it was released almost three years ago.

One of the high-profile ransomware victims who had to acquiesce to the demands of extortionists was the South Korean web hosting firm, Nayana. In June last year it was reported that the tech firm paid bitcoin worth more than US$1 million after 153 of its servers were infected with the Erebus ransomware negatively affecting its operations. At the time security researchers from Trend Micro blamed Nayana for using outdated PHP, Apache and Linux software.

And in a kidnapping rather than ransomware case, bitcoin worth approximately US$1 million was paid late last year to secure the release of Pavel Lerner, an analyst and blockchain expert at Ukrainian cryptocurrency exchange EXMO Finance, from his captors in another high-profile bitcoin ransom incidence.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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