Circle Sport-Levine Family Racing info. held for ransom
By AMANDA VINCENT
During the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend that culminates in Sunday’s running of the Toyota/Save Mart 350, the No. 95 Circle Sport-Levine Family Racing Chevrolet team of driver Michael McDowell confirmed that it almost didn’t get to compete in the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth in April. A cyber hacker held the race team’s computer files for ransom — a ransom the team felt it had to pay to continue. That ransom was paid in the form of Bitcoins, an Internet form of currency.
“Just knowing that we could lose everything that we had worked so hard to acheive was terrifying,” crew chief Dave Winston said, according to an end to an Examiner.com report
. “The data that they were threatening to take from us was priceless; we couldn’t go one day without it greatly impacting the team’s future success. This was a completely foreign experience for all of us, and we had no idea what to do. What we did know was that if we didn’t get the files back, we would lose years worth of work valued at millions of dollars.”
The ransomware attack was pulled off by using Winston’s computer to communicate with the team’s cloud server on April 5 while Winston was not in the shop or using his computer. After receiving a phone call from a confused team member, Winston went to the race shop to get his computer offline, but it was too late.
On the bright side, the ordeal taught the team the valuable lesson of protecting its information. And that lesson also has led to sponsorship backing. Malwarebytes is an associate sponsor on the No. 95 for Sunday’s race at Sonoma and will step things up next month by filling the role of primary sponsor on the car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Malwarebytes also plans to sponsor the CSLFR team in additional, to be announced, races through the remainder of the 2016 season.