Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
POLICE have sought assistance from “international partners” after radio servers at ZNS were hacked for ransom on Monday.
National Security Minister Marvin Dames told reporters yesterday the incident was a first for the country, but added law enforcement officers have been anticipating such an attack as it followed global cyber-crime trends.
Up to press time, engineers at the public broadcaster were working to restore data from backups after refusing to meet the hacker’s demands for $18,000 in incremental bitcoin payments or negotiate further.
“This is the world that we’re living in today,” Mr Dames said outside Cabinet. “This is certainly the first of its kind that would have been reported here in the Bahamas, where we had the radio servers of ZNS hacked for ransom. This is a common occurrence now around the world and the police are currently investigating this particular incident.
“This is something that in our planning that we have certainly been anticipating and as an organisation we’re working assiduously to equip the police force for these types of modern day challenges.”
He added: “We are currently working with our international partners to determine how do we address this particular issue as it relates to ZNS. So the police are on top of it, we just have to see where it ends up.”
It is unclear whether the radio servers were seized by a group or a lone hacker.
Employees discovered they were shut out of ZNS’ radio servers sometime before noon on Monday, according to Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas Chairman Mike Smith.
“We are making good progress,” Mr Smith said yesterday.
“We’re not going to pay any kind of ransom, and our managers have been meeting all morning and in process of restoring critical areas. We have to duplicate some things and we have to reorganise some systems but we will be able to get back, I wouldn’t say to normal but certainly be able to operate in spite of the challenge.”
Mr Smith revealed the hacker initially asked for a ransom of $50,000 in incremental bitcoin payments, but engineers “chewed him down” to $18,000.
“We have some backups, and the backups that we have we are reorganising,” Mr Smith said yesterday.
“(The hacker) he was asking us to buy bitcoin for him. Initially it was $50k then our IT men said it was a lot of money and chewed him down to $18k but he wants it done incrementally.”
Mr Smith added: “But you don’t deal with them, you’re not sure they are going to give you the password back.”