Hackers have shut down the payment system for San Francisco's public transport, and in doing so gifted free rides to thousands of passengers.

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The transport network itself has not been disrupted - just the capacity for money to be taken. And if all of this sounds like a mission in Watch Dogs 2, well, you would not be alone in thinking so.

The very real hack has left the San Francisco transport agency with no choice but to leave ticket gates open, The Guardian reported. The whole episode began last Friday, when hackers infected more than 2100 computers with malware and demanded a 100 bitcoin (59k) ransom.

Naturally, word of a seemingly-benevolent hack in San Francisco set gamers' tongues wagging:

Needless to say, San Francisco is the setting of Ubisoft's most recent open world - Watch Dogs 2 - and home to its cast of script kiddie heroes. Hacking public transport (well, controlling traffic, steering trams and buses) is already something you can do. Letting people ride for free as a middle finger to the man fits the game's tone perfectly.

Passengers themselves sound confused:

"I think it is terrifying," one rider told San Francisco's local CBS news. "I really do I think if they can start doing this you know here, we're not safe anywhere."

Queried another: "I was like, is this part of Black Friday deal?"

Meanwhile, the San Francisco transport system - which took a couple of days to work out what was going on - was less amused:

"There's no impact to the transit service, but we have opened the fare gates as a precaution to minimise customer impact," a spokesperson said. "Because this is an ongoing investigation it would not be appropriate to provide additional details at this point."

DedSec declined to comment when contacted for this article.

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

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Tom is Eurogamer's news editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and all the stealth Destiny articles.

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