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PGA servers are hacked as part of ransom scheme

Are you familiar with golf? You know, the game that frustrates so many of us yet we keep going back for more?

It’s a difficult game to master, but throughout any round most of us generally hit a few shots that make us think we have it figured out. It does not take long to figure out we don’t, though, but by then it’s too late.

People on the PGA tour rarely have those kind of problems, though. They are the best of the best, not hackers like most of us.

But speaking of hackers…

Indeed while most of us think of golf hackers as people who can’t get their swings down and struggle to get the ball where they want, there is another kind that is impacting the game. These are of the cyber variety, and they broke into servers that belong to the PGA of America.

A PGA spokesman told the BBC that the PGA Championship would not be affected by the hack, which was discovered on Tuesday the 7th when their attempts to work on files were met with a message saying, “Your network has been penetrated. All files on each host in the network have been encrypted with a strong algorythm [sic].”

The PGA of America runs the PGA Championship tournament, which began on August 9. The files the hackers took over also involve the Ryder Cup, which takes place in France in late September.

Included among the files that were hijacked are marketing materials such as promotional banners and logos that are used in print and online. There are also logos that may be used for future tournaments.

While the files may not be of a sensitive nature, some of the work that was taken began more than a year ago and therefore is not easily replaceable. The hackers have locked the files in hopes of receiving a ransom payment.

The PGA has no interest in meeting their demands

As reported on Golfweek, the hackers provided a Bitcoin wallet number for where to send the money to but did not give an indication of how much they are seeking. Bitcoin wallets are not assigned to any individual person, meaning they could not be used to identify suspects.

According to Golfweek, the hackers said they have exclusive decryption software that will allow them to open up and see the files. To try and prove this, they sent the PGA an encrypted email address and even offered to decrypt two of the files in an effort to prove they could do it.

They also warned that any attempt to crack the encryption could cause the loss of the data.

Instead of acquiescing, the PGA has its IT team as well as outside experts trying to address the issue. As of Wednesday they had yet to regain complete control over the servers, though a spokesperson said there would be no comment on the hacking as the situation was still ongoing.

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