Stoke & Staffordshire

Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm targeted in cyber attack

The company's premises in Stoke-on-Trent Image copyright Google
Image caption The company's IT team rebuilt its servers just in time to ensure staff would still receive their weekly wages

A pottery firm has been targeted by cyber criminals in an attack aimed at extorting money from the business.

Steelite International, based in Orme Street, Stoke-on-Trent, discovered hackers had encrypted its servers to cause "maximum disruption" to its payroll systems.

The company said its IT team rebuilt its servers just in time to ensure staff would still receive their wages.

The finance director said he "wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy".

During the attack, a hacker from a remote computer outside of the UK infiltrated a weakness in the company's system and began encrypting key files, Jon Cameron, group finance director, said.

The firm said its IT team noticed suspicious activity and began to address it when a ransom request came through from the hacker.

"The hacker asked for 79 Bitcoins. One Bitcoin is worth around £2,500 so it wasn't an unsubstantial amount. But we wouldn't be held to ransom, we have not replied," Mr Cameron said.

"Thankfully, the hacker didn't have chance to encrypt our back-up files, which meant that the IT team could restore function and prevent a potential catastrophe."

Though one of the files targeted was the payroll file, the IT team's actions meant staff payments were not affected, the firm said.

The firm, which produces tableware for the hospitality industry and delivers to more than 140 countries, said it had kept its staff informed and had since enhanced security measures to guard against another attack.

"Panic mode did set in initially" Mr Cameron said, "but thanks to the fantastic work of the IT team working through the night to build the server again, we made sure the hackers didn't get what they wanted."

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites