Townsend Business Centre in Belfast suffered a huge cyber-attack, with hackers demanding a sum of £13,000. Once their computers had been breached, they were remotely locked and displayed messages demanding the £13,000 ransom be paid in Bitcoin.
As soon as the business became aware of the attack, they contacted the police. This turned out to be the best thing that Townsend Business Centre could have done. Branding the incident as a 'lucky escape', the centre’s CEO Margaret McMahon spoke about the actions they followed:
"We refused to pay the money, which we have been told would equal about £13,000 and reported the hack to the police”
Bitcoin: cyber criminal currency
The use of Bitcoin as payment in 'data ransom' attacks is common today, but this incident was the one of the first publicised back in 2016. Bitcoins were introduced in 2009 and are digitally created tokens. They are popular with hackers due to being difficult to track, but commonly accepted as payment. Luckily for Townsend Business Centre, they managed to avoid paying the money:
"Thankfully we were able to recover almost all of the information lost and our servers were restored within three days. The important thing to note is that we didn’t have any specific vulnerabilities, but these criminals are incredibly intelligent.”
David Crozier, from Queen’s University’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies gave a damning statement on the way people are dealing with these attacks:
"Lots of people wouldn’t think twice about buying physical security for their building such as alarms and heavy gates – but they are leaving themselves exposed to criminals online by not having the correct protection. We believe many of these crimes are going unreported and businesses are simply paying up – this is absolutely the wrong thing to do because the hackers will keep coming back for more. Our advice is to act just as the Townsend centre did and make the PSNI aware.”
Get cyber secure
If you're unsure what good cybersecurity looks like, then read our cybersecurity best practice guide. It covers all the fundamental steps a business must take to be protected.