Five days after the Steamship Authority suffered a debilitating ransomware attack, the boat line’s website, credit card, email and reservation systems were still down — and boat line managers were staying mum about the problem.
As of late Monday afternoon ferries were still running on schedule and vehicle reservations made prior to the Wednesday attack were still being honored. But all non-reservation vehicle travel was being handled manually via standby, and customers were being ask to pay cash if possible.
A rudimentary web page lists schedules, fares, ticketing and parking information.
“We are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience,” a statement on the temporary site said.
The SSA has provided no information regarding the extent or the origin of the attack since it occurred Wednesday morning.
Vineyard SSA governor James Malkin has also declined to comment, citing the sensitivity of the matter.
“We’ll be back soon!” a message posted on the boat line main website said Monday.
The message provides a link to the web page with schedules and explains the current ticketing process and other information, reiterating the waiving of fees for reservation changes or cancellations and encouraging the use of cash for transactions.
The message also said:
“The Steamship Authority continues to work with its internal team, as well as with third-party experts and local, state, and federal officials, to address the effects of the incident.
“Thank you to everyone for their continued patience.”
A form of malware that encrypts IT systems until a payment is provided, ransomware attacks have become increasingly common throughout the United States, crippling vital infrastructure from oil pipelines to the meatpacking industry to transportation.
Over the weekend, national news outlets reported that the Biden administration and White House press secretary Jen Psaki called ransomware attacks a rising national security concern.
At the Vineyard Haven terminal Monday afternoon it was calm and quiet, both inside the ticket office and in the parking lot, where cars queued up in the standby line for a 4 p.m. departing ferry. The smell of salt air mingled with the faint scent of diesel fuel, as a ferry pulled into the slip.
Linda Talbott and her husband Pepsi were in the standby line headed off the Island after spending time at their home on Chappaquiddick.
Ms. Talbott said she had called in the morning to ask about the standby line but no one answered the phone. “If they don’t fix it in the next week or so there’s going to be some crazy people,” she said.
Rebecca and Lisa Berlow were in line too, having come to the Vineyard to visit their mother. They had an 8 p.m. reservation but thought they would try to leave earlier.
They praised the way the boat line had handled the problems.
“If you’re confident about the system and the way that they manage standby, they’ve done a great job.” said Lisa, adding: “People have been so polite, patient, and appreciative and understanding,” she added.
Aliyah Walker contributed reporting.