The London police have confirmed that the Travelex exchange office was hit by a ransomware attack on New Year’s Eve. The currency exchange website has been down in 30 countries since last week. Earlier they claimed to be having trouble due to a virus.
Consequences for Travelex
Travelex is working on a solution with the police and IT specialists. As far as we know, the company is in contact with the hackers, who have asked for a payment. Apparently, they have indicated that they will release the company’s systems after payment. It is not known whether Travelex intends to pay or not.
On the Travelex website you can read that the website is not available due to planned maintenance. “Our online, foreign currency purchasing service is temporarily unavailable due to planned maintenance. The system will be back online shortly.” Although the Travelex website does not work, money can still be exchanged at the physical locations. The damages for the company increase enormously every day that they are not online.
Travelex does indicate that there is no reason to believe that personal data from customers has been leaked. However, we will have to wait and see if this is really the case.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that can hold complete computer systems hostage. When the malware has managed to infect a device, it can encrypt all files on that device. This means that oftentimes the owner can no longer access them. The hackers then ask the owner to transfer money. Often they will ask for a payment in bitcoin to remain anonymous. They promise to release the systems when they have received the money. Ransomware is becoming a bigger problem, especially for companies.
During the holidays, the University of Maastricht was also hit by a ransomware attack. Luckily, most of the University’s systems are now up and running again.