GARDAI in West Cork are investigating what they believe is the first instance in their division of ‘ransom ware’.
This crime is a form of fraud, whereby a firm’s computer system is targeted by a virus, with a prompt for payment to ‘release’ it.
According to crime prevention officer Sgt Ian O’Callaghan, a business in Ballinhassig was recently targeted.
The company’s computers were ‘hacked’ by a third party, and the screens were then locked out to them. The company then got a message to lodge €500 in the form of ‘bit coins’ – the internet currency – to an account outside this jurisdiction.
‘The alternative is to bring your computers to a technician to have the hard drive taken out and replaced, but unfortunately a lot of companies pay the money instead,’ said Sgt O’Callaghan.
In this instance, the gardai were alerted and are now investigating.
‘We have heard of similar cases in companies around the country, but we believe this is the first instance of this type of fraud happening in the West Cork area,’ said Sgt O’Callaghan. And he urged firms to be vigilant and contact the gardai in the event of any suspected instances of ‘ransom ware’ at their offices.