MARTINSVILLE (WSLS 10) – As race teams prepare for the NASCAR race in Martinsville this weekend, one team in particular is also keeping an extra close eye on its computer data.
Earlier this year, the chief engineer of the 95 team had his computer infected with ransomware and wasn’t able to access any of the critical data the team needs to help prepare the car for races each weekend.
The team ended up having to pay more than $500 to the ransomware company to unlock the computer.
“We paid the ransom and they sent us a key to get it back. It was a big gamble because there’s a lot of ransomware people who don’t give you a key,” explained Michael Leavine, the team’s operations manager.
The driver of the number 95, Michael McDowell, says the team didn’t panic, but it was scary.
“Our team went into, not panic mode, but time to figure out ‘what can we do, what are the options, what’s available for us out there.’ Definitely a scary time for our team,” McDowell said.
The team has since installed anti-virus software, which has stopped two more attempts by ransomware companies to infect the computers.