BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – An ongoing service outage at HR giant Kronos dragged into another week, leaving companies worldwide and locally unable to process payroll.
Kronos announced they expect the outage to last for weeks.
WBRC spoke to University of Alabama at Birmingham computer science professor Ragib Hasan who explained authorities urge companies not to negotiate with hackers, but the company likely had few options to get everything back up and running.
“The goal of these attackers is to get a ransom,” UAB Computer Science professor Ragib Hasan explained.
Hassan said hacking into a large company like Kronos can mean a big payday well into the millions of dollars.
“Unless the ransom is paid, all of the data is essentially lost because it’s encrypted. Once the ransom is paid, the attackers provide the cryptographic keys to get the data back,” Hasan said.
Hasan says hacking companies has become an organized crime making it difficult to track down who’s behind the attack.
Kronos has not announced who hacked their systems.
Hasan explained hackers usually target employees by email. Once the email is opened and the employee clicks a link, the system can be infected and shut down.
“They are exploiting our psychology. If you see an email coming from your friend or your boss, they are more likely to click on it,” Hasan said.
He advised us to pay close attention to all emails and make sure they are legitimate before clicking on them, no matter who the sender is.
Companies can also fight back by being prepared.
“It’s almost impossible to get back the data. Unless the company has strong backups, have a backup of the data and the system, there’s no way the company can get back on their feet. This kind of attack can cripple a company and even run them out of business,” Hasan explained.
WBRC has reached out to Kronos for an update on the situation. We’ll update this article when we hear back.
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