Sunny Cali goes ballistic, this ransomware is atrocious. Even our IT bill will be something quite ferocious

Stay decrypted, San Diego

The Port of San Diego in California has shipping in outside help to deal with a crippling ransomware infection that is now in its third day.

Port CEO Randa Coniglio said on Thursday that a number of services, including park permits, public records requests, and business document filings, have been hit by file-scrambling malware getting into officials' systems. Processing of applications and queries has slowed to a crawl or stopped completely due to computer terminals being taken down by the infection. The network intrusion is also affecting the San Diego Harbor Police Department.

"The Port has mobilized a team of industry experts and local, regional, state and federal partners to minimize impacts and restore system functionality, with priority placed on public safety-related systems," Coniglio said in an update.

"The team is currently determining the extent and timing of the incident and the amount of damage to information technology resources, and developing a plan for recovery. The Harbor Police Department continues to use alternative systems and procedures in place to minimize impacts to public safety."

Water palaver?

Lest you think this is only about container ships and dockworkers, in the case of sunny San Diego, the 49km2/19 square mile "Port" also is the section of the US city that includes its waterfront tourist and parks districts. The section of its perimeter that is sea-facing stretches across 34 miles (55km) of coastline, and also includes two cargo and cruise ship terminals, as well as private boat marinas, a shopping and restaurant area, and the city's convention center.

The attack is said to have first been uncovered on Tuesday, with the Port issuing its first formal statement on the matter Wednesday. So far, details on what specific infection or group was responsible for the attack are unknown.

The city has not provided any timeline for recovery of its systems. The San Diego Union Tribune reports that, so far, residents themselves have seen minimal impact from the attack.

If past events are any indication, clean-up from the infection could prove to be a long and costly affair for San Diego. Earlier this year, the city of Atlanta ended up spending around $2.5m to clean up a ransomware attack that had paralyzed a number of its services. ®

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