Napoleonville business falls victim to ransomware attack
NAPOLEONVILLE - Sheriff's deputies in Assumption Parish reported that a large business in the parish fell victim to a cyberattack by ransomware over the weekend.
The company told investigators they applied a software update to company hardware last Thursday, but did not notice any change in the updated software when the update was applied. After the company contacted the provider of the software and found out that the software developer had not issued an update, they discovered they had fallen victim to a disguised cryptovirus, which quickly infected the business' computers and network. Worse yet, workers at the business quickly found they were unable to open any important files as the virus, known as "ransomware", encrypted or locked sensitive company files attached to the infected network.
Workers at the company said infected computers with locked files displayed a message instructing workers on how to send payment to the hackers who installed the virus in order to recover their files.
Further investigation from by the Assumption Parish Sheriff's Office revealed that there had been similar attacks at businesses in a nearby parish where the business actually sent money to the hackers in order to regain access to their files and documents. Investigators warn that while this may seem like an easy solution to this type of attack, it does not mean that the virus will be entirely removed by the hackers or that they will even grant access to the files after they have received "ransom" payment.
For those concerned about similar attacks, investigators offered a few safety tips to avoid losing data or important files to cyber security threats:
-Be cautious prior to running software updates, especially for software that does not require frequent updates.
-If your company has an I.T. department or a similar technology resource, consult them prior to applying updates or running software from a suspect source. For software updates to critical company software, investigators recommend -contacting the software vendor to make sure the update was actually issued by the developer.
-Backup important files early and often. The cryptovirus is able to infect backed up files on the same network as other infected machines, so having a cloud or offline backup solution is important.
-While investigators said this particular case was the result of a bogus software update, they said similar attacks are often carried out through e-mail. If an e-mail seems suspicious, cyber security experts say you should delete it instead of opening it.
-Always use anti-virus software with the latest database updates applied, but nothing beats maintaining awareness of network traffic to ensure the security of one's sensitive files and information.
APSO Special Investigations Unit detectives said they believe the hackers are based in a foreign country, and they have an ongoing investigation open into the attacks.