CONWAY, Ark. – Hackers are blocking companies in Conway from files on their computers and won’t give them back until they pay a ransom.

Some businesses are now out thousands of dollars with little to show for it.

“We were a little scared because we don’t have control over that,” said the owner of Fixed by Fletcher, Brian Fletcher. 

Fletcher fixes other computers for a living but worried he would have to rework his own after one of his customers was hacked. 

A large company in Conway, Fletcher would not identify, was attacked by ransomware. Its in-house IT department tried to recover the document haul through the company’s four backups but still lost a lot.

“That was their last hope,” Fletcher said.

The company was down for a couple days, unable to serve its clients across the state.

“I can’t really say it was a data breach,” Fletcher said. “We don’t know anything like that. It can occur from just clicking into a simple email.”

Victims of these attacks have two options: pay the ransom or pay a company to recover the documents.

“The FBI has stated they don’t recommend paying the ransom,” Fletcher said. “If you do, that just adds to the cost.”

Fletcher doesn’t have a dollar amount for this unidentified company but said another in Conway, hit with ransomware in June, is out $70,000, including $15,000 it paid in ransom.

“It got back a few of their documents, but then they were out the rest,” Fletcher said. 

The FBI is now involved to track down the location of these hackers, but Fletcher said that fix is nearly impossible.

“If you take somebody for ransom, a physical person, you have them,” he said. “You can’t just go away. You’re still somewhere. But in the digital world, that stuff, it can just disappear.”

Ransomware can attack a device in ways other than just clicking on a suspicious email. Fletcher said it can even go to the i-Cloud.

That’s why it’s important to have multiple backups, including some that don’t connect to the internet.