By Michele F. Mihaljevich
LINCOLN, Neb. – Customers of several auction companies couldn’t view items online or place bids after a ransomware attack earlier this month. The attack against Sandhills Global started Oct. 1 and was resolved by Oct. 4, according to auction companies impacted by the incident.
Sandhills Global, an information processing company based in Lincoln, hosts several auction websites, including HiBid, TractorHouse and LivestockMarket.com.
In a statement, Sandhills Global said systems and operations were temporarily shut down during the attack to protect data and information. “We have retained cybersecurity experts to assist us with the investigation (into the attack), which is ongoing. At this time we are continuing to investigate whether any of our client’s information has been accessed or impacted by this incident. At this time, we have not discovered evidence that confirms that customer information has been compromised. Please know that our clients are our number one priority and we are working diligently to restore operations and remediate the attack.”
A representative of Walther & Hawkins Auctioneers, based in Centerville, Ind., said the company began experiencing problems with its website Oct. 1.
“People weren’t able to bid,” she noted. “We like for people to be able to see items on the weekend. The site was back up on Monday (Oct. 4).”
In an email to customers, B&H Auction, of Danville, Va., said its online auctions weren’t accessible as a result of the attack. The attack brought down “the bidding platform and (affected) thousands of auction companies and bidders throughout the United States and Canada. We value you as customers and appreciate your patience in this unfortunate situation.”
B&H said in fairness to bidders and consigners, it would suspend a couple of auctions until online bidding was again available.
In a video posted on YouTube Oct. 2, Jason Deel, founder of JD’s Realty & Auction, of Clinton, Tenn., said, “(HiBid) is down nationwide. We’ve got six or seven auctions going on right now. So don’t panic. There’s nothing you guys can do about it. Just kind of be patient. The auctions aren’t going to close, they’re just kind of paused, if you will. You can’t search for anything, you can’t check your bids, you can’t really do anything to the point we can’t either.”
Two days later, Deel said in another video his website was back up and working, adding some auction dates were being adjusted.
Attempts to Sandhills Global, B&H and Deel for additional comments were unsuccessful.
While the auction sites were down, some people on Facebook expressed confusion, and frustration they couldn’t access items up for bid.
On HiBid’s page, one comment read, “Can’t bid if your website is down all day. Are you going to make a statement about what’s going on? What about auctions we had bids on that ended in this shutdown?”
A poster on the TractorHouse page complained he had paid for an advertisement no one could see. Another wrote, “Maybe you should fix your website.” Another asked, “Has your website been hacked or what?”