Md. restaurant’s computer held for ransom

computer hacker

In a textbook illustration of a new online threat for restaurants, a chain outlet in Rockville, Md., was closed for a week by hackers who locked down the establishment’s computer network and demanded a $10,000 ransom to unfreeze it.

The hijacking left the Hard Times Cafe without its computer files and POS system from Sunday through Saturday, according to local media reports. Management apparently did not pay the ransom, but had to search for a work-around. It chose to remain closed until the seizure could be reversed.

Employees who opened the restaurant on Sunday, March 20, said they were unable to access files. A message delivered via the computer system said the files and functions would remain frozen until they were paid $10,000 in Bitcoin, a virtual currency.

The system had been infected with what’s known as ransomware, or programming that allows online pirates to seize control of the machine from a remote location.  Management said it was comfortable by Friday with restarting the system without fears of customer or employee information being swiped.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Workforce

Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.

Financing

Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.

Financing

Ignore the Red Lobster problem. Sale-leasebacks are not all that bad

The decade-old sale-leaseback at the seafood chain has raised questions about the practice. But experts say it remains a legitimate financing option for operators when done correctly.

Trending

More from our partners