Ransomware hits Spar supermarkets and petrol stations

Graham Cluley
@gcluley

Ransomware hits Spar supermarkets and petrol stations

Supermarket chain Spar has had more than 300 of its convenience stores in the UK affected by a ransomware attack, which has forced some to close their doors or only accept cash payments.

The cyber attack, which first struck at the weekend and was confirmed to involve ransomware on Tuesday afternoon, not only shut convenience stores but also prevented the public from fuelling at petrol stations.

Some customers took to social media to express their frustration:

It appears that the ransomware attack hit Lancashire-based James Hall & Co, which operates Spar’s tills and IT systems.

Visitors to James Hall’s website are currently greeted by an ominous signal that things have not yet returned to normal.

James Hall, which employs over 3500 people across the North of England, says that its staff payroll has not been affected by the attack – which surely will be comforting news in the run-up to Christmas.

However, Sky News reports that the company explained that some stores operate independently of James Hall, and so it “could not say whether any employees were on zero-hours contracts and thus left unable to work as a result of the incident.”

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James Hall & Co has not confirmed which ransomware hit its systems, or made any public statements as to whether it would be prepared to pay a ransom to cybercriminals to help it recover its systems.

In July, Swedish supermarket branches of Coop were hit by a ransomware attack, and the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands suffered a cheese shortage after a food transportation company was hit in April.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

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