In Focus: Ransomware and the ECMC Computer Virus

Cyber Security Expert Tells WBEN Similar Attacks Happen Every Day


Amherst, NY (WBEN) - ECMC is still dealing with the virus that forced them to shut down their entire computer system last week, and people are pointing to a ransomware attack as the cause  

The hospital says that they hope to have their system restored "very soon."

Arun Vishwanath, a professor at the University at Buffalo, works with many companies to prevent cyber attacks, and says that the problems at ECMC all seem to fall in line with ransomware.

"When a system is taken offline, which is what (ECMC) did and it took them a couple days to restore it, almost everything points to it being a massive ransomware attack," Vishwanath said. "Basically what a ransomware does is it encrypts everything so a system has to be shut down and then brought back by some sort of backup."

Though many may be learning about ransomware for the first time because of ECMC's ordeal, they're far from the only business to be targeted.

"Locally, I believe the FBI reports one ransomware attack per day," Vishwanath said. "We know for a fact that the city of Lockport had to pay. We know that the Niagara County health department was a victim of ransomware. These are all attacks that we know of. Many attacks people don't report."

Like many other viruses, ransomware can be activated by malicious links and emails sent by attackers that are opened by someone linked to a larger system. 

Vishwanath said those emails and links are highly targeted, and often well disguised as to not raise any red flags from recipients.

ECMC is expecting to have their system restored soon.

"We're hopeful that the path we're on now continues," said Peter Cutler of ECMC. "I can't say if it's a matter of days or if it's specific by the middle of next week."

Hear the complete Conversation with Vishwanath below:

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