Hit Promotional Products Battles Malware Attack

Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125) announced Friday that it was the victim of a malware attack that disrupted its computer systems. The Florida-based company is the latest industry firm to reveal that a digital virus hindered operations in what appears to be a recent wave of hackings aimed at promo businesses.

In a statement, Hit said that the virus struck during the week ending April 21. It targeted a protocol on one of the supplier’s file servers that processes artwork.

“Since the initial infection, we immediately engaged an outside security firm to actively monitor the virus, and have taken many additional security measures to harden our network to contain and eliminate the virus,” said Krista Ward, director of marketing. She continued: “At the present time, all of our critical systems are functioning, and our hardworking employees are working overtime to catch up on artwork processing and ship orders.”

Hit, which Counselor ranks as the 4th biggest supplier in the industry with reported 2016 North American promotional products revenue of $354.5 million, said it expects to set a record number of new orders booked the week ending April 28.

Hit was far from the only industry firm to be victimized. Top 40 supplier Hub Pen Company (asi/61966) suffered an attack, which its IT team beat back. Meanwhile, High Caliber Line (asi/43442) had to fight off the malware on three occasions over the course of a few days. The Irwindale, CA-based supplier’s IT team defeated a “TrickBot” virus that first struck on April 12th. The virus was accidentally launched again on April 16th, and seemed to be battled into submission by High Caliber’s IT team. However, the virus was able to regenerate from a computer at a second facility that had not been cleaned, giving High Caliber Line a third round of trouble. Nonetheless, the company’s IT team prevailed and installed next generation anti-virus protection – a bulwark that’s been protecting the system.

In at least a couple instances, the viruses exploded into promo firms’ systems when individuals clicked a link in an email asking to confirm shipping information. The email appeared to be from a customer, but was from hackers. The malware has the ability to disrupt and paralyze companies’ computer networks, email and phone systems.

Counselor has learned that both suppliers and distributors have suffered attacks, though not all affected firms wished to speak on the record. The malware aggression against promo companies could be part of a broader hacking campaign. Cybersecurity officials in the U.S. and United Kingdom have said recently that the Russian government is supporting cyberattacks against Western targets that range from individuals to small businesses and large corporations.