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Web hackers launch Armagh cyber attack

Thursday, 18 May 2017

A computer virus which has spread across 150 countries has struck a business in Armagh, encrypting tens of thousands of vital files.

The WannaCry ransomware began attacking users' files on Friday demanding money to restore access.

Victims have included the NHS, FedEx and the Russian Interior Ministry and now D.A. Architects Ltd in Armagh have reported that the virus has encrypted almost 10 years worth of work.

Director of D.A. Architects, Sam Nicholson says at this stage it's almost impossible to calculate just how many files have been locked.

"We are certainly talking about tens of thousands of files," said Mr Nicholson.

"We opened back in 2007 and we are talking about 10 years here.We did have a back-up for our system but that was plugged into our server.When the ransomware got into our system it went right through everything.

"The only blessing is that it did not encrypt our drawings otherwise we would be completely lost.

"We are still investigating how it got into our system but the virus came via one work station and from there it went throughout the business." The virus demands victims pay a ransom of 230 in the computer currency Bitcoin to get their files back. However the message from the UK's National Crime Agency is "do not pay" as there is no guarantee that the files will be restored.

"We aren't paying the ransom but instead hoping that the authorities come up with some software of their own so we can restore our files." said Mr Nicholson.

"We have our own in-house IT man working on this as well especially to set up safeguards against this happening again." Mr Nicholson said what happened to his business should serve as a warning to others especially as there have been reports of planned fresh attacks.

"If this can strike at a small architects business in Armagh then it can strike anywhere.

"This is not an international problem which is happening elsewhere, there are no boundaries with the internet and I would urge local businesses to take internet security seriously.

"This is proving a real nightmare for us and I would hate to see others go throught it."

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