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“Ransomware” Demanded $500 From Broadcaster

Stannard’s three small-market stations were hit

We told you earlier about a “ransomware” attack on a small-market Louisiana radio station.

Now we learn it was Stannard Broadcasting in Leesville that was attacked. Not one but all three of its stations were affected; they are KVVP(FM) “Today’s Country 105.7” as well as KROK(FM) and KUMX(FM).

The three stations are all back on the air, but problems persist.

“Stannard Broadcasting Inc. is working to correct problems associated with a virus that affected its data server,” the company said in a statement. A Trojan virus had been executed on a computer in the station’s network on Oct. 16 that encrypted the station’s database audio files in the server.

“Along with the virus came a text note offering a key word to unlock the virus in exchange for $500 in Bitcoin, an Internet currency,” it said.

The broadcaster did not pay any ransom, Radio World has confirmed; instead it reported the attack to local law authorities and went about working to get back on the air. The company said it will have to buy some new equipment and that “further measures will also be taken to secure data.”

News Director Elona Weston tells Radio World that the station’s small staff worked through the weekend dealing with the consequences of this attack. “It was mayhem for a little bit,” she said, with a substantial amount of audio data missing or inaccessible. Complicating things, one of the stations has been in the process of installing a new transmitter.

Radio World reported yesterday that the station’s automation vendor believes this attack was by the CryptoWall virus, though this hasn’t been confirmed.

Doug Stannard is the general manager. “Two stations have had their music library compromised in that there is still missing audio and all the data strings are not complete,” he wrote to Radio World in a followup email today. “Each day there are more elements compromised. Each day there are additional files tapped by the hackers. So, each day is a new set of problems.”

He said the data that’s been restored lacks normalization and some data headers, “but all three stations remain on the air while staff is busy remedying other problems.”