Another Station hit by Ransomware

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Another Station hit by Ransomware

Jan 20, 2015 3:11 PM

The small Plainwell, Mich. radio station WAKV (licensed to Otsego) is back on the air after one of its computer systems responsible for on-air playback and billing was hit with a ransomware virus. This incident follows a string of similar reports from 2014.

Owner Jim Higgs operates the station from the basement of his home. According to reports from WOOD(TV) and mlive, he had gone down to the studio and noticed that the station was silent. The computer reportedly showed a message indicating that his files had been encrypted and demanded a ransom to decrypt them. He did not pay the ransom or call the police, since it was seemed unlikely to him that either would result in his data being restored or the offenders being prosecuted.

Higgs says he does not recall clicking on anything suspicious that may have initiated the attack. Fortunately, he was able to restore much of the data from another computer, but it will take some time before things are entirely back to normal.

While there is no 100% sure-fire way to prevent these types of attacks, the best defense is to limit traffic between critical systems and the Internet, including appropriate antivirus software, firewall technology, staff training and internal policies. In addition, backups should be kept up-to-date on a regular basis.