Horry County Schools in South Carolina has paid approximately $10,000 to hackers after being hit with ransomware.
Ransomware: a form of malware designed to “hold your computer data hostage” using encryption until a sum of money is paid.
The hackers locked the data across the Horry County City Schools network in February.
Charles Hucks describes the computer servers acting unusual and witnessing frozen computers with the eerie message spreading across all screens:
“Hey you want to free your data? Pay us.”
The attack affected systems throughout the district, even payments for school lunches were affected from this ransomware.
A demand for payment in bitcoins (nearly untraceable form of digital currency) was made.
“We chose to send the payment for one machine, first, so that we could ensure that it would work.” Hucks says the criminals sent a code for one computer. He entered the code, and the computer returned to operation.
As that computer became unlocked, Hucks began paying for each computer, resulting in a total of approximately $10,000 being paid to the hacker’s Bitcoin account.
The school computer system was back up and running.
District officials have not set a policy to pay hackers if this ever happens again.
Ransomware is a bad trend that’s on the rise
Ransomware comes from emails, photos, links, and many other ways. Many small to medium sized businesses do not think they will be a target for cyber criminals, but they’re wrong. They’re actually the easiest target and quickest payday for cyber criminals.
Many small to mid sized businesses do not set up preventative measures such as:
- Up-to-date anti-virus protection
- Proper Data Backups
- Anti-spam solutions
- Educating employees about Spam
Last year, the FBI says it received 2,453 reports about ransomware, costing victims a total of $24 million dollars.
Many companies do not report ransomware to the FBI
Companies don’t want to be in the news for ransomware. Companies also don’t want their customers or governments, etc. to think they’re not protecting computer systems and sensitive data. It’s believed the crime is actually much bigger that what the FBI is reporting. Therefore, many companies pay the hackers to free their data without ever reporting it.
If you want to start taking preventative measures to help prevent your business from becoming a victim to ransomware,
give us a call: (619) 325-0990
If your business was just infected with ransomware, give us a call now: (619)325-0990