Ransomware attack could cost Tampa's WMNF more than $5,000

The station did not pay the attackers.

WMNF 88.5-FM interim general manager Cindy Reichard confirmed that the community radio station was the victim of a June ransomware attack that may render archived episodes of the station's news and public affairs programs lost forever.

The station did not pay the ransom, and reported the incident to law enforcement instead. Reichard — who was unsure how much the attackers actually wanted — told the Tampa Bay Times that “FDLE told us that a lot of times you pay and you still don’t get your data back anyway.”

A ransomware attack involves software that blocks access to a computer system or data, usually by encrypting it, until the victim pays a fee to the attacker.

She added that the data recovery and security upgrades will cost the station and estimated $5,000, or more. That number pales in comparison to the $500,000 that Urban One — the largest distributor of urban content in the U.S. — shelled out in initial response to a cyber-attack on its IT systems and databases. Reichard is not sure where the WMNF attack — which also affected the station’s live HD broadcasts and blank forms the station uses around its office — came from.

“We don’t really know for sure, other than it came through [archiving system] the AudioVault,” she told the paper. “It could have been sitting in a file for a long time and someone did something that triggered it. Or it could have come in with some music we downloaded.”

On July 8, AudioVault posted a blog about choosing the right antivirus program to protect files and prevent ransomware.

Hope this doesn't cut into the Heatwave 2020 budget.

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About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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