The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey recently underwent a cyber attack courtesy of an unknown hacker. New Jersey News 12 reported that ransomware was used to bypass the security measures of the theatre.
Artistic director Bonnie Monte said that ransomware affected the theatre’s computer system through a virus. This made all data contained by the system inaccessible.
Ransomware is a kind of malware that encrypts the files contained by the target system. Usually, cybercriminals extort money from victims in exchange for releasing the files. Such incidents also come with blackmails threatening victims that sensitive information will be published should they fail to pay the hackers.
Monte also said that the theatre’s show immediately following the attack needed to be canceled. This is because “every single piece of data needed to make [the show] happen was gone.” The incident also prevented the organizers to know the names of ticket buyers, their seat numbers and the number of available tickets.
Secure World Expo noted that hackers increase activity during holidays. This is because many organizations cut down the presence of security staff during holidays. This strategy gives them ample time to execute the attack with minimal possibility of being detected.
Aside from the Shakespeare Theatre, a company that suffered from a holiday breach was Timehop, back in July 2018. According to reports, the attackers waited until the 4th of July before implementing their plan. This led to a breach involving 21 million records. It was also revealed that most of the IT security team were not present in the office as it was a holiday.
This strategy may be the case with the Shakespeare Theatre attack. News 12 also revealed that the theatre is not the only arts-related institution that underwent a ransomware attack. The Museum of Early Trades and Crafts (METC) in Madison also experienced the same thing. However, The Madison Eagle reported that no sensitive information was leaked thanks to METC’s cloud-based storage.
On a good note, the issue has been addressed by the organization and has resumed the shows. No customer data were compromised in the attack. Moreover, patrons had been understanding of the situation, helping the organization piece together their seating chart.
Monte noted that the theatre will have to place a lot of effort into rebuilding its database. However, it has plenty of time to do so as its next shows will be held in May 2020.