A Canadian company that owns many popular restaurant chains has been told to pay ransom in bitcoin to retrieve data that hackers claim to have stolen.
On Monday, Recipe Unlimited — formerly Cara Operations — said it was hit with a “malware outbreak” that’s affecting operations at a “limited number” of its restaurants including brands Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, Milestones, Kelsey’s, Montana’s, Bier Market, and East Side Mario’s.
Several locations have temporarily closed as a result.
Following the cyber-attack on Friday, a ransom letter popped up on computers at multiple restaurants owned by the company, some employees said.
“All of our computer systems crashed,” said a worker on shift at the time at an affected location. “The ransom note appeared under the file, ‘read me’ in a WordPad format. We were all really in a state of shock.”
CBC News has agreed to keep employees’ names and work locations confidential because they fear repercussions from their employer for speaking publicly about the incident.
The ransom note, obtained by CBC News, informs Recipe Unlimited that “there is a significant hole in the security of your company” and that “we’ve easily penetrated your network.”
The hackers claim that they “crypted” the company’s files “with the strongest military algorithms” and that, in order to restore the data, the company must pay an unspecified amount in bitcoin.
“The final price depends on how fast you write us,” said the message, adding that every day of delay will cost 0.5 bitcoin, more than $4,000 Cdn.
“There’s a big difference between malware and ransomware, and this is ransomware,” said another employee at an affected location.
“It’s, ‘We’re taking all of your information and holding it hostage.'”