Company With 300 Employees Forced To Close After Ransomware Attack



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A telemarketing firm in the U.S. has been forced to close its doors and push three-hundred of its staff into unemployment after an unsuccessful clean-up attempt of a ransomware attack that crippled the company.


The Heritage Company, based in Arkansas was initially hit by a ransomware attack in October, 2019, but its recovery efforts in the aftermath weren’t enough to save the company. Tragically, employees were notified just days before the Christmas holiday break via a letter sent from the CEO.


Employees have told local media outlets that they were unaware the company had even been hit by a ransomware attack, and the announcement came as a surprise to the majority of the company’s employees.


“We were forced to pay the crooks to get the ‘key’ just to get our systems back up and running.”


Sandra Franecke, the company’s CEO said in a letter sent to employees that “unfortunately, approximately two months ago our Heritage servers were attacked by a malicious software that basically ‘held us hostage for ransom’ and we were forced to pay the crooks to get the ‘key’ just to get our systems back up and running.”


Franecke went on to explain that the company’s IT team had struggled with its data recovery efforts, which were initially estimated to take around one week. The company, however, was unable to recover sufficient data to recover its full service by the lead-up to Christmas, and was left with no other choice but to close its doors.


Heritage’s CEO also explained that the company had lost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in the aftermath of the ransomware attack, and was forced to “restructure different areas in the company,” before suspending its operations and telling its three-hundred employees to look for other employment.


“When employees called the company yesterday, they were greeted by a recorded message informing them that recovery efforts have not been successful and that users should seek new jobs.”


According to ZDNET, “Franecke left the door open for people to get their jobs back, telling employees to call back on January 2 for a status update, in case the IT staff made headway with data recovery efforts over the holiday season. The same KATV report [said] that when employees called the company yesterday, they were greeted by a recorded message informing that them recovery efforts have not been successful and that users should seek new jobs.”


The message told those employees that “though we have made progress, there is still much work to be done. With that in mind, we do not prevent you from searching from other employment. Please take care of yourselves, your loved ones and have a happy new year.”

An unnamed former employee has told local media outlets that they have little faith in the company recovering, adding that “most of us are convinced that they’re not going to reopen. I’m pretty sure they’re just buying time because they know as soon as they’re not going to reopen we’re going to have to get a settlement and I think they just don’t want us to take them to court.”


ZDNET’s report mentions two other instances of ransomware forcing a company to cease operations, including “doctors at a medical practice office in Michigan [that] decided to shut down their business and retire one year ahead of schedule, rather than deal with the fallout from a ransomware infection,” as well as “a second medical office, based in Simi Valley, California that reached the same conclusion in September 2019, deciding to shut down all operations after they were infected with ransomware a month before and lacked funds to pay the ransom.”

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