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Garmin services go down after reported ransomware attack

Shut down looks to continue for a couple of days

Photo by: Garmin

Garmin users around the world woke up yesterday morning to the realization that the app that pairs their phone to their bike computer or sports watch was down. Notices on social media and on the company’s website described an “outage” that affected Garmin Connect and also affected call centers.

It has since been reported by media sites including ZDNet that the company is dealing with a ransomware attack “that has encrypted its internal network and some production systems.”

ZDNet also reported that a Taiwanese tech news site called iThome had shared an internal Garmin memo to its factories in Taiwan “announcing two days of maintenance mode” for today and tomorrow due to a virus.

The report speculates that the cause of the shut down is a “new strain of ransomware that appeared earlier this year, called WastedLocker.”

“WastedLocker basically tries to hit all production data and corrupt/encrypt all backups so you are forced to pay a ransom to restore access,” says technology expert Travis Sitzlar, who was formerly the Chief Technologist at Ironman. “That Garmin is offline — and memos are saying they need two days of extended downtime even in factories — is pointing to a mass loss of access to data and systems.”

“That’s why outside observers believe it’s WastedLocker,” Sitzlar continues, “Since the steal-and-blackmail virus variants don’t necessarily destroy your access because that also ends their backdoor and cuts off the information flow. The other variations try to steal the data and then the hackers attempt to blackmail/extort the victims to prevent release of confidential or proprietary data.”

Triathletes keen to upload their training data to services like Strava can still manually upload their files, as our sister publication Canadian Cycling Magazine reported yesterday:

Simply plug your Garmin into your computer using the USB you use to charge it, navigate to ‘devices’ on finder and click on your Garmin (Mac) or click on the Garmin device under your File Explorer (PC). Click on the ‘activity’ folder and find the .fit file for todays activity.

Go to Strava.com, click the + button at the top right corner, click ‘Upload activity’, then ‘File’ on the left. Upload today’s activity and you’re done.

The Garmin outage has some serious overtones, though. flyGarmin, the web service that supports Garmin’s aviation navigational equipment, was also down yesterday, as was the Garmin Pilot app.