Computer hackers in threat to coffee shop

Lurgan businessman Ben Nelson.
Lurgan businessman Ben Nelson.

A local man has told how his Lurgan business was severely disrupted after hackers in China took control of his online computer storage account.

Ben Nelson, from Magheralin, runs the Love Coffee shop on Lurgan’s Main Street.

He first discovered something was wrong with his Apple Mac when he recently got a notification on his phone which told him that the associated online account was being accessed in China.

The message to his phone said: ‘Your iCloud is being accessed in China, do you want to... a) Allow Or b) Not Allow’.

He added: “Obviously I selected ‘not allow’ and was then prompted to change my password. The next time I turned on my MacBook and MacBook Air they were both locked out, with no option to input any password, I was completely frozen out.”

Ben was not able to discern the motives of the hackers responsible.

“I really couldn’t, I mean, all hackers want control, money, financial information, personal information, so my guess is they were trying to gain that. However they don’t seem to have done any damage before the Apple ‘tripwire’ has started this whole avalanche.”

Apple fixed one of his computers but said it was against policy to fix his newer machine, a MacBook Air, as he had bought it second hand and could not provide proof of purchase.

“As I had bought the MacBook Air privately I am now forced to replace or live without it.

“What is an important point to make is that the lock was put on my computers by Apple as a security feature designed to safeguard me. The lock was not put on by the hackers.”

He adds: “It has been a huge inconvenience. On a weekly basis I use my MacBook to promote my business online, update my website, keep my accounts and records up to date, send invoices, design menus and little bits of graphic design for posters or flyers for myself, online marketing, social media and the like, all of which have been rendered nearly impossible by the loss of access to my files.

“It’s a massive inconvenience and the loss of hundreds of hours of work.

“I do graphic design and web design for other people and unless I can gain access to my account literally thousands of pounds worth of intellectual property will be lost forever.

“At the coffee shop we have an Escape Room which can be booked online, the database for running those bookings is all online too, and so we are losing countless bookings as a result of this malfunctioning software/hack.”

He does not see any possibility of the hackers being brought to account, he said.

A spokesperson for Apple said: “We are unable to comment on individual customer queries but are following up to fully investigate”