It’s not just elections. Hackers are now targeting major golf tournaments too.
Shadowy bandits have hijacked the PGA of America’s computer servers, locking officials out of crucial files related to this week’s PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club and the upcoming Ryder Cup in France.
Hackers have taken control of the PGA of America servers and demanded a bitcoin ransom in the days leading up to the start of the major golf tournament in St Louis.
PGA officials were still trying to regain control of the computers servers, that have kept them from accessing files for the tournament.
Staff members discovered their systems had been compromised on Tuesday when attempts to access files generated a message that the network had been penetrated, Golfweek reports.
The hackers warned that any attempt to break the encryption could cause files to be lost.
The message included a Bitcoin wallet number, without stating a ransom amount for them to regain control of the files.
The files included promotional banners and logos that are used in digital and print communications, and on digital signage around Bellerive Country Club.
Officials said some of the work had been a year in the making and couldn’t be easily replicated.
The hackers quickly made clear that their goal was extortion.
“We exclusively have decryption software for your situation,” they wrote. “No decryption software is available in the public.”
An encrypted email address was included with an offer for the PGA of America to send the hackers two files which they would decrypt as evidence of their “honest intentions.”
The message also included a Bitcoin wallet number, but no specific ransom amount was demanded for the return of the files. Bitcoin wallets are not linked to a particular person or entity and cannot be used to identify suspects.
The PGA of America does not intend to meet any extortion demands, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.
The organization’s IT team scrambled to address the issue but has not yet regained complete control of the files, nor identified the source of the hacking.
As of Wednesday afternoon, officials had still not regained complete control of their servers. It’s not believed that the hacking has yet impacted the PGA Championship and outside IT experts have been engaged to ensure the tournament is unaffected.
A spokesperson for the PGA of America said the organization would be declining comment on the hacking because it is an ongoing situation.