The PGA of America’s showcase golf tournament teed off Thursday morning at Bellerive Country Club in suburban St. Louis, but the organization has spent the past couple of days dealing with a more sinister issue: hackers who have attacked its computer system.
According to GolfWeek’s Eamon Lynch, PGA of America employees who attempted to access certain files Tuesday were greeted by a message that read: “Your network has been penetrated. All files on each host in the network have been encrypted with a strong algorythm [sic].” The hackers also warned that any attempt to break the encryption would result in the destruction of the files.
For clarity’s sake, the PGA of America is a separate entity than the PGA Tour. The former is a nonprofit organization comprising local teaching professionals throughout the country; it operates the PGA Championship. Professional players compete on the PGA Tour, which operates nearly every other U.S. men’s golf tournament.
Lynch says the files in question contained “creative materials for the PGA Championship at Bellerive and next month’s Ryder Cup in France,” including banners and logos used on digital signage at the PGA Championship and development work that’s been done on future logos for the tournament. Some of that work has been going on for more than a year and “cannot be easily replaced,” Lynch writes.
The hackers also listed a bitcoin wallet number — which is nearly impossible to trace — but no specific ransom amount. A source told Lynch that the PGA of America has no intention of paying any ransom.
PGA of America spokeswoman Jamie Carbone declined to comment Thursday, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation. She did say that no PGA Championship files have been impacted.
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