You’re off the air! Bitcoin ransom virus attacks radio station archives

Despite the almost 360 degree transformation that Bitcoin has undergone over the last year from an unsafe, highly volatile unknown quantity whose data storage was subject to theives and whose usage was often viewed as the preserve of the underworld by conservative investors, it is still evident that the virtual currency can be used for nefarious purposes.

In today’s world of ever advancing financial technology, Bitcoin is viewed as the payment method of the future, with large scale infrastructural developments being backed by many very well respected venture capital funds and regulatory authorities in the UK, Switzerland and North America, however today it has been announced that the University of Missouri’s public radio station KBIA has received an emergency call from the station’s programming director.

According to a report today by Nieman Lab, the radio station stands to potentially lose its entire history of archived files dating back to 2006 due to a ransomware virus called CryptoWall 2.0 which corrupts files and then demands payment in order to reverse the files

Patrick Neelin, the lead engineer at the university’s radio station stated, according to the Nieman Lab report, that he “was kind of in a panic at that point” referring to the telephone call that he recevied from the programming director that stated “Patrick, I’m trying to open some of our files up on our shared storage and every file comes up with a warning that it’s been corrupted.”

The report further asserts that a number of different ransomware viruses that have proliferated in recent years, but an August statement by Dell’s SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit called CryptoWall the “largest and most destructive ransomware threat on the Internet.” There were about 625,000 systems infected globally by CryptoWall between mid-March and August 24, CTU reported. In that time, more than 5.25 million files were corrupted.

KBIA didn’t pay to try and release its files, but 3 percent of ransomware victims do send money to their attackers, according to a June report from the security firm Symantec.

Whilst no employees at the radio station are certain as to how the virus entered the system, executives consider that it could have been a local entity that was attempting to extract money from the station beause this is a targeted virus, meaning that it is not a simple automatic virus that can affect any system, because nobody else at the university was affected by it.

Mr. Neelin was less than impressed by the attempt to extract a ransom in Bitcoin from the radio station over which he presides, having left a comment under the Nieman Lab report making his position very clear whilst using very colorful language.

Thankfully, no actual long term damage was done, although the radio station now stands to increase its antivirus protection, which in itself is an expensive business.

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