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Honolulu police, FBI investigate cyberattack as TheBus, Handi-Van sites inaccessible

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Federal agents and Honolulu police are investigating the cyberattack that disabled online servers and shutdown TheBus website, TheHandi-Van reservation system and prevented riders from using their HOLO transportation cards.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Honolulu Police Department, and the U.S. Secret Service are partnering to investigate the cyberattack that continues to hamper OTS systems and are providing resources to resolve the intrusion, according to a FBI news release.

This afternoon, websites for TheBus and TheHandi-van remained inaccessible and it was unclear if TheHandi-van users could make reservations online.

On Friday, Roger Morton, director of the Department of Transportation Services, said the attack had all the hallmarks of a ransomware attack but the city did not have any specific demand for money.

Riders’ personal information was not compromised in the attack because Oahu Transit Services, the private contractor that manages TheBus and TheHandi-Van, uses servers that are separate from the city’s. The attack targeted the functionality of OTS’ servers and initial reviews did not find evidence of captured information or data.

“We are currently working with our inter-agency partners to identify those responsible for this crime,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill, in a news release. “As always, the FBI is focused on ensuring our partners at Oahu Transit Services have everything they need to return to normal operations, and we will do everything we can to impose risk and consequences on those responsible for this attack.”

On Friday, OTS officials said TheBus was operating with little to no delay in service, and HOLO card holders could resume using them to pay for their rides. The HOLO website was active this afternoon. On Friday city officials said the HOLO card call center was still offline.

“The United States Secret Service – Hawaii Pacific Cyber Fraud Task Force is the focal point of our cyber investigative efforts in partnership with other law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, private industry and academia to combat cybercrime through prevention, detection, mitigation and investigation,” said USSS Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Howe, in the release.

Last year the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 2,474 ransomware reports which accounted for over $29.1 million in losses. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts data on a computer making it unusable, according to the FBI.

The dollar figure does not include estimates of lost business, time, wages, files or equipment, or any third-party remediation services acquired by a victim, according to the FBI.

In some instances, victims do not report losses to the federal government, generating an artificially low overall ransomware loss rate.

Whoever initiates the attack holds the data hostage until a ransom payment or some other arrangement in exchange for access to the encrypted information is reached. According to the Justice Department, in some cases cyber criminals threaten to destroy data or make it public.

“The Honolulu Police Department immediately opened an investigation and will continue to work closely with the FBI and our other law enforcement partners to identify and hold accountable the perpetrators,” said HPD Interim Chief Rade Vanic.

Last year was a profitable one for cyber criminals as more Americans worked from home, did distance learning or used online resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationally, Internet crimes increased about 40%, from 467,361 complaints that cost Americans about $3.5 billion in 2019 to 791,790 complaints and $4.2 billion in losses in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

If you have information, contact the FBI in Honolulu at 808-566-4300, or visit or Callers may remain anonymous.

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