TransLink system hacked, sources confirm as CEO suggests payment data safe – News 1130

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) — TransLink’s system has been hacked, according to multiple sources, causing problems for commuters across Metro Vancouver for the last two days.

While the transit authority hasn’t confirmed the hack, calling it “suspicious network activity,” NEWS 1130 has obtained a copy of the ransom demand. This letter has apparently been coming out of printers at TransLink, according to sources, reading, “Your network was attacked, your computers and servers were locked.”

The note from these hackers threatens to release certain information in three days if TransLink does not meet its demands, which are unspecified in this letter. The hackers also instruct the transit authority to download a private browser in order to proceed.

TransLink shut down several of its IT services this week and some still aren’t functioning. In terms of the public impact so far, tap and pay was disabled for a time but is now back up and running.

RELATED: Multiple TransLink services still down due to ‘suspicious network activity’

While commuters still can’t load their compass cards using credit or debit, TransLink Chief Executive Kevin Desmond said earlier in the day he hopes that will be back up and running by the end of the week.

A similar situation happened in Montreal in October when hackers demanded US$2.8 million, though it’s not clear if there’s any connection.

The transit authority is currently carrying out a forensic investigation in partnership with police following the activity, but TransLink continues to be vague about what happened to the system.

Payment data not accessed, suggests TransLink CEO

Speaking publicly Thursday for the first time since this suspicious activity started, Desmond suggested customer payment data wasn’t accessed as a result of this situation.

“It’s important to note that we generally do not have access to customer payment information, which is processed by secure third-party payment processors,” he said. “… All transit services continue to operate regularly and without any impact. Customers can be assured that there’s not been any compromise of our transit safety systems whatsoever.”

Unifor Local 111 President Balbir Mann also says the IT shutdowns were a hack, but he’s been told that bus drivers’ personal information has not been compromised.

“We have assurances they haven’t gone that far,” he says.

However, he says the IT problems are impacting GPS functions on buses.

“They don’t know where the busses are right now at the moment, but we have a radio system so if members need help out there they can still call,” Mann says. “We’re in the fallback mode, but slowly things are progressing.”

The investigation was announced Tuesday, but in a statement Wednesday, TransLink said, “Given this is an active investigation involving law enforcement authorities, we will be limiting our comment at this time.”

Watch: TransLink disables multiple services while investigating ‘suspicious network activity’

-with files from Kurtis Doering