Tuesday, April 5, 2016

NC Radio: NonCom WHQR Stuggles With Ransomware

During the frenzy of a fundraising drive this week, the staff of WHQR 91.3 FM was facing a cyber crisis behind the scenes.

Several computers and a server at the Wilmington, NC radio station were infected with "ransomware" -- a type of malware that encrypts files and demands money to return them to normal.

StarNewsOnline reports staff first noticed something wrong March 16, when four computers started showing pop-ups with ransom messages. Station manager Cleve Callison said it took a week of hard work by Hooks Systems, a Wilmington company that partners with the station on technology needs, to fix the issue.

"We're talking about work files that people use for their daily business," he said. "It's still going to take a lot of work to go through them and sort them. ... But we believe that we really dodged a very serious bullet."

Callison told listeners about the issue during a morning broadcast Friday. While Hooks Systems was eventually able to save WHQR's stolen files without having to pay the attackers, Callison said the station's staff was on edge throughout the ordeal.

The FBI recommends taking steps to keep "ransomware" off of computers and mobile devices:
  • Keep antivirus software up-to-date
  • Enable automated patches for your operating system and web browser
  • Have strong passwords, and don't repeat passwords
  • Use a pop-up blocker
  • Only download software from sites you know and trust
  • Don't open attachments in unsolicited e-mails and never click on a URL contained in an unsolicited e-mail
  • Conduct regular system back-ups and store backed-up data offline

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