INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- This week, two metro organizations have fallen victim to online ransomware attacks.
The Brownsburg Public Library and the Marion County Fairgrounds have both had their information held hostage.
Ransomware is what it sounds like. Criminals lock up a company’s computer system and demand a ransom to unlock it.
The crime has been around for decades, but experts say it has become more common as crooks take advantage of technology.
This week, an unwelcome red message showed up on Kathy Kubick`s computer.
“Any file that was on there prior to Wednesday is encrypted. I can`t open it,” said Kubick.
Kathy works in the administrative offices at the Marion County Fairgrounds. After the hack, Kathy called tech support and got some bad news.
“They couldn`t do anything about the encryption. It’s beyond their means to fix,” said Kubick.
In order to decrypt the files, Kathy got another message telling her to go to a website and pay an estimated thousand dollars in bitcoin funds.
At the same time in Brownsburg, the public library was hit by a ransomware attack that knocked out their catalog system and the online backups.
No user information was put in jeopardy, but the crooks did request a payment to fix the catalogs.
“Just knowing that not everything out there is safe to click on and there could be negative impacts is key to remember,” said Dustin Hutchison with the cyber security firm Pondurance.
Hutchison says it`s important for companies to keep their software up to date and keep employees educated.
It’s hard to undo the hacks after they happen, so prevention is key.
“Employees need to know you don`t want to expose your personal info and you don`t want to expose your organizations information,” said Hutchison.
“Trust me. We`re going to get a new computer and it will be fully protected,” said Kubick.
While the fairgrounds and library both beef up their security, Kathy was told by the FBI that it`s nearly impossible to catch the crooks responsible.
“I think these people need to find a life and do something legitimate for their money and leave us alone,” said Kubick.
Officials in Brownsburg admitted they paid their ransom, but the fairgrounds will not.
At this point the Brownsburg library has restored most of their systems.