Held A Virtual Hostage

And other items…but first…

RADIO/TV HOLDUP: Last month, a tiny West Michigan radio station was turned asunder…as parties unknown held a virtual gun to its computer systems.

Grand Rapids NBC affiliate WOOD-TV/8 covered the story at Jim Higgs-owned standards WAKV/980 Otesgo MI:

On Jan. 9, crooks used software called “ransomware” to remotely shut down the computers Higgs uses to get his station on the air. His files were encrypted so he couldn’t get to them.

“Our entire music library, the audio files, all of our jingles, all of our commercials, all of our announcer voice tracks — everything locked,” Higgs listed. “There was an icon on my screen and it said that, ‘We have locked up your files and if you want them unlocked then you will have to pay us $500.’”

Fast forward to now, and Cleveland, where the very same thing has happened to veteran sportscaster and columnist Dan Coughlin…who was in the process of writing his latest book.

DanCoughlinFox8From the website of his long-time TV home, Tribune Fox affiliate WJW/8:

Five chapters of his third book were stolen and are now being held for $700 ransom.

Coughlin has filed a report with the Rocky River police and the FBI and says he will finish the book and re-write the new chapters if needed.

From Coughlin’s other long-time work home, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “TipOff”writer Michael K. McIntyre first shared the story. He turns to the local FBI office…and finds out that “ransomware” is becoming all too common:

“One of the most common things we get calls on,” said Kelly Liberti, a special agent with the FBI field office in Cleveland. “There are so many different viruses out there.”

Computers are most often infected with viruses with names like “CryptoLocker,” “Xorist” or “CryptoWall” when the user clicks on an e-mail attachment that looks benign, inviting the virus in, she said. Some websites also can infect computers if antivirus software isn’t up to date.

The veteran sportscaster and columnist has no intention of shuttling $700 in Bitcoins to anonymous hackers likely a world away.

Coughlin says he’ll recreate the chapters on former Cavs owner Ted Stepien, Boston Marathon scam artist Rosie Ruiz and others. Luckily, some of the chapters were preserved because he’d already e-mailed them to his publisher, Gray & Co. He vows to back up his files to an external drive from now on, but the lost chapters, he said, are gone forever.

And the incident has him not only vowing to do external backups…it has him fondly remembering the era of the typewriter which served him well, but is in his closet in the Digital Age:

“You can say one thing for sure,” Coughlin said. “Nobody could hack into somebody’s typewriter.”

INCOMING AT 13TH AND LAKESIDE: With the United Airlines hub now shut down, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport may have to add more flights just to accomodate incoming TV news personalities.

The latest, according to Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 senior director and blogging colleague Frank Macek, is inbound from Texas:

AndrewHoranskyThe Channel 3 News team is growing again as Multimedia Journalist/Reporter Andrew Horansky joins WKYC-TV this April, announced News Director Brennan Donnellan.

Horansky returns to his hometown from our Gannett sister station, KHOU-TV/Houston, where he has worked for the past three years in the same capacity.

Yep, like many of the incoming here in the Cleveland/Akron (Canton) TV market, Horansky is coming back home:

Andrew grew up in Westlake. “I’m THRILLED to be coming home,” Horansky tells us. “My wife will be practicing pediatrics and we’ll be able to raise our 7-month old daughter, Juliet, closer to family now. We have relatives and friends all over the city, including parents and grandparents.”

Andrew’s bio on the KHOU website notes that he basically “covered the world” in a stint with cable’s “HD News”, which we believe aired on “HDNet”:

From the devastating tsunami in Sri Lanka to a massive earthquake in Pakistan, he traveled the globe covering some of the biggest stories of the decade. He reported from the war in Iraq, traveled to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, to Britain for the subway bombings, and to Haiti for deadly mudslides.

There’s no mention of being shot down in a helicopter with NBC News managing editor Brian Willliams, who’s taking a break from the “Nightly News” anchor desk this week in the growing mess over his apparently quite inaccurate claims…

CHICAGO AUDITIONS: Someone with Cleveland radio background is in, uh, “the loop” to replace former iHeart rock/talk WMMS/100.7 afternoon driver Maxwell on his now-former Chicago station.

Chicagoland Radio and Media reports that Liz Wilde, herself a former WMMSer, will return to her former station to hold down the fort for one of four audition weeks at Cumulus rock WLUP/97.9 “The Loop”:

Former WLUP-FM host Liz Wilde has also confirmed that she will be among those being given a test week in February. Wilde’s week will have to be done remotely, as she is currently living in Florida.

“The Loop” will allow listeners to vote for, and otherwise rate, the auditioning personalities on its website.

Long-time readers remember that Maxwell was not doing a morning drive talk show on the Chicago station, and that his cast/crew members did not follow him from WMMS and a brief stint at WNCX.

One of his cast members, Dan Stansbury, eventually struck out on his own…first in afternoon drive in the final English-language days of Murray Hill Broadcasting alt-rock WLFM-LP/87.7-TV 6 “Cleveland’s Sound”, then on an actual radio station with today’s morning drive “Stansbury Show” on iHeart rock WRQK/106.9 Canton…

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