Garmin suffers global outage after suspected ransomware attack

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Fitness tracking titan Garmin has been affected by a wide-ranging global outage which has shut down the company’s website, disrupted production lines and prevents users from uploading activities.

In a statement posted on Garmin and Garmin Connect, the company said that “We are currently experiencing an outage that affects and Garmin Connect. This outage also affects our call centers, and we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and apologize for this inconvenience.”

The outage presented at around 3am Thursday (UTC) – approaching 24 hours ago – and there is as yet no indication from Garmin as to when normal service will resume. The company has delivered a notification to some users that they “will be performing system maintenance at 5pm [UTC, Friday] lasting approximately four hours”, taking the outage time well into a second day.

ZDNet reports that Garmin staffers have claimed on social media that the company was the victim of a ransomware attack, where malicious hackers encrypt a company’s data and hold it hostage until a ransom has been paid, usually in bitcoin. Canyon was also the victim of a similar attack early this year.

Garmin has not provided formal confirmation of this having taken place, referring to the issue more nebulously as an “outage” or “maintenance”. However, Taiwanese tech website ITHome reports that the company’s manufacturing facilities in Taiwan will be down for two full days of work, with internal memos referring to a “virus”, without naming ransomware specifically.

There are unconfirmed reports that the strain of ransomware used is EvilCorp’s WastedLocker, which primarily targets US-based corporations. Security companies believe that the group is based in Russia.

There are a number of concerning implications for Garmin users beyond the fact that activities in this time can’t be synced to Strava (and as such, didn’t happen). The company sells hiking trackers and provides equipment for the automotive and aviation industries – places that you really don’t want things to go wrong – and holds sensitive data of its millions of users.

CyclingTips has contacted Garmin for comment, but as yet has received no response.

In the meantime, Garmin-using cyclists can save ride data manually by USB – just browse to your activities directory, save the relevant .fit or .gpx file to your desktop, and upload it from there to your preferred activity tracking service.

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