Skip to Content
Kronos hit by ransomware impacting paychecks
© Thamrongpat Theerathammakorn | Dreamstime.com
Security & privacy

Payroll company hit by ransomware – And it could mean your next check is late

The holiday season is in full swing, and many people rely on the year’s final paycheck to purchase Christmas presents or getaways. Need more holiday shopping inspiration? Tap or click here for 15 crowd pleasers under $50.

But this year might not be a smooth ride for many employees. A prominent payroll company used by tons of businesses recently suffered a ransomware attack, and it’s likely to impact paychecks.

Hundreds of businesses could be without the ability to pay staff. Read on for details on this nightmare before Christmas scenario.

Here’s the backstory

Kronos revealed that it was hit with a devastating ransomware attack that could keep its payroll software offline for the next few weeks. Ransomware attacks are when cybercriminals break into a system and encrypt data and ask for a large sum of money to return access to it.

Large corporations often use the services of human resource and workforce management companies like Kronos. It streamlines the paycheck process and makes staff management easier.

But when the central software for salaries is knocked out, it has a ripple effect on all the companies that use the service. Kronos notified authorities about the hack on Monday and said it detected unusual network activity on Saturday. 

Due to the attack, several workplaces and government agencies announced to staff that they were impacted.

These include:

  • New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
  • San Angelo, Texas hospital workers
  • Honolulu’s public water workers
  • Oregon Department of Transportation
  • University of Utah
  • George Washington University

The exact number of companies affected isn’t known, but Kronos is one of the country’s most extensive human resource management services. While it hasn’t been confirmed, early indications point to the attack using the Log4Shell vulnerability.

What you can do about it

If your company makes use of Kronos software, all isn’t lost. Several businesses are setting up contingency plans which include issuing paper checks. Others have resorted to pen and paper as a rudimentary time clocking system.

But payroll software often stores the personal information of employees. There is a reasonable assumption that staff details could also be compromised in the ransomware attack.

The amount of data stored on the Kronos system will vary, depending on the level of service a company signed up for. So keep an eye on your bank accounts to watch for suspicious activity and be aware of identity theft possibilities.

Even though this attack was on a payroll company, you should take steps to protect against ransomware in your personal life.

The best way to defeat a ransomware attack is to take precautionary steps. Here are suggestions that will help:

  • Back up data regularly – this is the best way to recover critical data if your computer is infected with ransomware. More on that in a moment.
  • Make sure your backups are secure – do not connect your backups to computers or networks that they are backing up.
  • Never click risky links in emails – don’t click links from unsolicited emails, it could be a phishing scam. Ransomware can infect your gadget through malicious links found in phishing emails. Can you spot one? Take our phishing quiz to find out.
  • Do NOT enable macros – You should never download PDF, Word or Excel files attached to unsolicited emails to begin with. If you do open one of these documents and it says that you need to turn on macros, close the file and delete it immediately.
  • Have strong security software – this will help prevent the installation of ransomware on your gadget. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Go to ProtectWithKim.com now to save 85% on total protection you can trust.

Backing up your critical data is a vital safety precaution in the fight against ransomware. It’s the best way to recover your files without paying a ransom.

We recommend using our sponsor, IDrive. You can backup all your PCs, Macs and mobile devices into ONE account for one low cost! Go to IDrive.com and use promo code Kim to receive an exclusive offer.

🚨 What it means for you

This attack hit one of the biggest human resources companies in the country, with payroll services used by companies, government agencies and other organizations from coast to coast. Its effects could last for weeks as Kronos tries to bring systems back online.

✅ How paychecks, timesheets and other services are maintained in the meantime is up to each business. For some, it could mean paper checks and possibly a delayed payment.

✅ A bigger concern is the possibility that sensitive information could have been compromised by hackers. If you even suspect your personal data is at risk, tap or click here for the steps to take immediately after a data breach.

Keep reading

Major ISP and cable company breached – And you’ll never believe how

Millions of routers from Netgear, Linksys, D-Link and more are at risk of malware attack

Stop robocalls once and for all

Robocalls are not only annoying, but they scam Americans out of millions every year. Learn Kim's tricks for stopping them for good in this handy guide.

Get the eBook