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NASCAR Team Falls Victim To Bitcoin Ransomware

by on June 29, 2016

Bitcoin ransomware is a grave threat affecting consumers and enterprises alike. The number of malware attacks is on the rise month over month, and far too few devices and networks have adequate protection. NASCAR Team Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing found that out the hard way, as they were forced to pay a US$500 Bitcoin ransom. None of their important files were backed up regularly either.

For the time being, details regarding which type of Bitcoin ransomware was used, remain unknown. The NASCAR team lost access to all of their important files on a laptop. Trouble started brewing when odd data appeared on the device, albeit they did not seem malicious in nature at that time.

Even NASCAR Is Not Safe From Ransomware

Crew Chief Dave Winston managed to delete all of these odd files, and business seemed to resume as normal. However, it didn’t take long before all of the computer files looked out of place. Considering how spreadsheets of the team’s operation are kept on this device, panic started to ensue. There are no backups of those files either, as they thought such things would “never happen” to the NASCAR team.

Ransomware was the obvious culprit, albeit we have not received official word on which type has been used. As is the case with any Bitcoin ransomware infection, there is an option just to pay the fee and restore file access. The NASCAR team decided to do so and paid US$500 in Bitcoin to restore their files. It is important to note paying this fee is no guarantee files will be recovered. However, it appears the team got lucky.

Bitcoin ATM And A New Sponsor

Obtaining the Bitcoin was a lot easier than anticipated as well. With a Bitcoin ATM close to team’s garage, the transaction was completed within hours of getting infected. Thankfully, the assailants provided the decryption key, and Winston could access the critical data once again.

Whether or not this incident will raise awareness for cyber security threats, remains doubtful. NASCAR Is a popular industry, and malware does not discriminate as to who is targeted. Backups of sensitive data should be mandatory for all computer users and driving teams. But it did not turn out to be all bad for the NASCAR team. Malwarebytes helped them out to secure their systems and files, and they became a sponsor too.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

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JP Buntinx is a 30-year old FinTech and Bitcoin enthusiast living in Belgium. His passion for finance and technology made him one of the world's leading freelance Bitcoin writers, and he is working to achieve the same level of respect in the FinTech sector.
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