Ransomware Shut Down McMenamins. Ransomware and malware attacks are hamstringing some major institutions in Oregon , USA.

Last week, pub and hotel chain McMenamins suffered a ransomware attack that left its employees’ personal information potentially compromised. (Ransomware is the work of hackers who seize company computer systems and demand payment.)

Headquarters today told WW that its email and phone systems are currently unavailable because of the attack. McMenamins told the newspaper last week that some restaurants were using credit card imprinters, or handheld devices that copy the face of the card, and storing the information until cards could be charged once systems were back up (they now are, according to a spokesperson).

McMenamins said in an information sheet sent to employees Dec. 21: “The files impacted contained employee Social Security numbers. There was a potential that the thieves accessed files containing direct deposit bank account information, but we do not have a clear indication that they did so.”

Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Transportation says its Rose Quarter project site was attacked by malware. The agency is creating an interim site for the highway project.

Ransomware Shut Down McMenamins: Why Are Ransomware Attacks Emerging?

The modern ransomware craze began with the WannaCry outbreak of 2017. This large-scale and highly-publicized attack demonstrated that ransomware attacks were possible and potentially profitable. Since then, dozens of ransomware variants have been developed and used in a variety of attacks.

The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the recent surge in ransomware. As organizations rapidly pivoted to remote work, gaps were created in their cyber defenses. Cybercriminals have exploited these vulnerabilities to deliver ransomware, resulting in a surge of ransomware attacks. In Q3 2020, ransomware attacks increased by 50% compared to the first half of that year.

Dozens of ransomware variants exist, each with its own unique characteristics. However, some ransomware groups have been more prolific and successful than others, making them stand out from the crowd.

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