Hackers Tee Up a Ransomware Attack for the PGA Ahead of the 2018 Championship

By on Aug 10, 2018

Fore! That’s not a ball hitting the 9th hole, that’s a ransomware attack. You heard correctly – the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) was hit with a ransomware attack this week, just days ahead of its annual championship tournament. Specifically, the attack was on the PGA’s computer servers, and is keeping officials from accessing files, such as numerous PGA banners, logos, and signage, for the PGA Championship 2018.

Though it’s unsure how the crooks were able to get inside the PGA’s system, they have made their motives clear. Per Golfweek’s report, the cybercriminals left a message for the PGA staff, stating, “Your network has been penetrated. All files on each host in the network have been encrypted with a strong algorithm.” “Any attempt to break the encryption could cause the loss of all of the work. This may lead to the impossibility of recovery of certain files,” the message threatened. They also included a Bitcoin wallet number for the PGA, however, the organization has yet to put anything in there.

That means, as of now, the PGA is still without access to a few of their promotional materials as their tournament is underway. However, the 2018 championship is still carrying on successfully, as planned.

Now, what can we take away from this situation? The tournament is still running smoothly, even despite the disruption from hackers. So, take a page out of PGA’s book – stand up to cybercriminals and don’t pay the ransom. Beyond not paying the ransom, here are a few additional security tips to follow if you’re ever faced with a ransomware attack on your personal device:

  • Keep your devices up-to-date. Though it’s not exactly known how cybercriminals gained access to the PGA’s systems, usually, ransomware attacks depend on a known vulnerability. So, make sure you update your devices’ software early and often, as patches for flaws are typically included in each update.
  • Do a complete backup. With ransomware attacks locking away crucial data, you need to back up the data on all of your machines. If a machine becomes infected with ransomware, there’s no promise you’ll get that data back – it could even become wiped entirely in some cases. Therefore, make sure you cover all your bases and have your data stored on an external hard drive or in the cloud.
  • Use decryption tools. No More Ransom, an initiative McAfee is a part of, has a suite of tools to free your data, each tailored for a specific type of ransomware. If your device gets held for ransom, start by researching what type of ransomware it is. Then check out No More Ransom’s decryption tools and see if one is available for your specific strain of ransomware.
  • Use comprehensive security. To be prepared for ransomware or any other type of cyberattack that may come your way, it’s important you lock down all your devices with an extra layer of security. To do just that, use a comprehensive security solution.

And, of course, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

About the Author

Gary Davis

Gary Davis was previously McAfee's Consumer Security Evangelist providing security education and advice to businesses and consumers. He is a sought-after speaker on trends in digital security, appearing at conferences and events, as well as security and consumer lifestyle broadcast outlets and publications such as ABC, NBC, FOX, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Money ...

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