Local business victim of ransomware attack

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IDAHO FALLS — A local event-supply company was hit with a ransomware attack that caused it to lose most of its data.

Darrin Peterson, owner of Signature Party & Event, told EastIdahoNews.com he found something was wrong with one of his in-house servers on Saturday. Upon closer inspection, he found all of his files had suddenly become encrypted.

“I was taking a closer look and started realizing that all files on the computer had had their extension changed to WTF,” Peterson said. “Then I realized every directory had a file at the bottom that said, ‘To decrypt files, use this information.'”

A similar attack happened in Bingham County last year. The county ended up paying more than $3,000 to de-encrypt its files.

He said he found in the file an email address and a Bitmessage address. Bit message is a peer-to-peer messaging platform for sending encrypted messages. Peterson sent a message using the Bitmessage address.

“I sent the person a Bitmessage saying, ‘What’s the ransom on my computer?’ and they replied, ‘$5,000,'” Peterson said.

When he contacted the FBI about what happened, he said, authorities told him there was nothing they could do. Luckily, there were a few files backed up off site, so he was able to start rebuilding the Signature Party Rental’s website and reconstruct customer reservations back to mid-October. (The site was still down as of Wednesday at 4 p.m.)

Though years worth of data was lost, Peterson said his company — formerly known as Signature Party Rental — does not store customer’s financial information. He also said the FBI told him the data was not likely stolen, only encrypted.

Peterson requested that customers who made reservations with Signature Party Rentals after mid-October call to make sure their reservation makes it back into the system.

Going forward, Peterson plans to make better use of best practices like making sure back-ups are kept off-site. He said he’s also considering paying for web hosting services instead of using his own in-house servers.

“I think, looking forward, I’ll just let the experts do what they do, and I’ll do what I do,” Peterson said.