Computer files for the PGA Championship golf tournament starting Thursday have been hacked and locked until a Bitcoin ransom is made to decrypt them, Golfweek reported. So far, the tournament hasn't been affected.
PGA of America officials learned of the hacking on Tuesday and have yet to regain control of the captured files. They told Golfweek they don’t intend to pay the Bitcoin ransom.
"Your network has been penetrated. All files on each host in the network have been encrypted with a strong algorythm [sic]," said an email from the hackers to the PGA, according to Golfweek. "… We exclusively have decryption software for your situation. No decryption software is available in the public."
The hackers' message included a Bitcoin wallet number, which cannot be linked back to an individual. The hackers offered in the email to send back two files which they would decrypt as evidence of their "honest intentions."
As of Wednesday, the hacking had not affected the prestigious tournament at Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country, Missouri, a suburb west of St. Louis.
The tournament is one of the four major golf championships held on the tour annually. Most of the world's top golfers are participating -- from Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, to Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.
The locked files contain creative materials for the championship at Bellerive and included information for the Ryder Cup next month in France.
Golfweek said the files include promotional banners and logos used in digital and print communications, and on digital signage around the grounds at Bellerive. The locked files also include development work on logos for future PGA Championships.
"Criminal organizations now are treating this like a business," Ron Pelletier, cofounder of the cybersecurity firm Pondurance, told CNBC. “They're going to plan, they're going to make sure they understand how they're going to execute and then they're going to set out and see where they can execute."
Over the past decade, digital hackers demanding ransoms mostly targeted the health care field, accounting for 38 percent of such cyberattacks, CNBC reported in April.
According to Chubb, a property and casualty insurer, the professional service industry has been involved in 16 percent of ransom ware attacks while the retail industry made up 11 percent of the incidents.
Bitcoin has long been the preference of payment for such hackers because it operates as a decentralized currency, in which people pay each other without a middleman like a bank or credit card company, and it provides anonymity, The Guardian reported.
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