Cleveland Hopkins Airport recovers from computer malware attack; FBI investigates

The FBI is investigating an apparent hacking incident that affected computers at Cleveland Hopkins Airport last week. The hack did not affect flight operations or security protocols, but it did interfere with baggage claim operations, as flight and baggage claim screens at the airport were down for nearly a full week. 

Last week, Cleveland Hopkins Airport suffered extended power outage issues that plagued its computers. A person familiar with the matter confirmed to CBS News that an “outside entity” was believed to be behind the outage. CBS affiliate WOIO reports investigators froze the system to prevent further damage and the FBI made a forensic copy of the computer systems in order to investigate the cause. 

The city said airport systems were affected by a type of malware, but stopped short of calling the incident a hack. But the difference between hacking and a malware infection may be nothing but semantics. The issue appears to have been resolved and there do not appear to be any additional problems stemming from the hack.

According to the person familiar with the matter who spoke with CBS, investigators believe that ransomware was installed but apparently the city of Cleveland did not pay a ransom. Investigators believe that an organized ransom group may be responsible. 

Last year, a ransomware cyberattack crippled the city of Atlanta, shutting down the city’s computer systems and stalling operations at the busy Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The culprits demanded the equivalent of about $51,000 in bitcoin to unlock the systems. 

Close