FBI reviews cyberattack on Sundance
Festival says screenings were not interrupted
January 24, 2017
A cyberattack targeted the Sundance Film Festival during the busy opening weekend of the event, festival organizers said, indicating that the attackers targeted the box-office operations.
It was an extraordinarily rare cyber case in Park City that has drawn attention from the FBI. Sundance said in a Saturday online posting that it had "been subject to a cyberattack that has shut down our box office."
"Our artist's voices will be heard and the show will go on," the organizers also said in the posting.
Later postings alerted festival-goers that the box-office operations had been restored. Sundance said the cyberattack did not impact screenings.
Sandra Barker, a spokesperson for the FBI field office in Salt Lake City, said the bureau was contacted on Saturday.
"We are aware of the cyberattack. We are reviewing the incident," Barker said, adding, "A review does not necessarily result in the opening of an investigation."
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Sundance contacted the Park City Police Department about the incident as well. Rick Ryan, a Police Department captain, said Sundance was "not able to properly do business without their computers."
Over the weekend, Ryan said, there were other issues with computers and some cash registers on Main Street. He said the problems were related to Internet service. He said it appears the other issues were not linked to the cyberattack that targeted Sundance. There was initial worry about a relationship between the cases, Ryan acknowledged.
"There was some concern something was going on that was directed at Park City . . . It doesn't appear that was the case," he said.
Ryan said the Police Department alerted City Hall's information technology team about the Sundance issues as a precautionary measure. He said there were no cyberattack attempts on the municipal computer systems.
A Sundance spokesperson, meanwhile, released a statement about the incident maintaining that it does not appear the cyberattack intended to disrupt a festival entry.
“The FBI is reviewing the case. At this point, we do not have any reason to believe the cyberattack was targeted towards a specific film. No artist or customer information was compromised," the statement says.
The Summit County Sheriff's Office said there were no reports of a cyberattack at Sundance venues in the outlying county or elsewhere. There are two Sundance screening rooms in the Snyderville Basin. Andrew Wright, a Sheriff's Office lieutenant, said the agency spoke to the Police Department about the case in the city. He said the cyberattack "at this point appears to be isolated to the city."
The cyberattack occurred amid a politically charged atmosphere in Park City with the swearing-in of Donald Trump as the president occurring during the early part of Sundance. The festival has long been a hotbed for causes of the political left. The case was reported on the same day as a large demonstration in Park City that drew between 5,000 and 7,000 to Main Street for the Women's March on Main. The demonstrators marched in support of a variety of issues and expressed displeasure with the president.