DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — During the 4th of July weekend, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative was attacked by ransomware which shut down most of the companies operations.

A ransomware attack is when criminals use malware to publish a victim’s personal data or block access to it unless a ransom is paid.

Wiregrass Electric CEO Les Moreland said the attack is not what shut down their systems, it was the company’s decision.

“Your best strategy is to shut everything down and access what’s going on,” Moreland said. “If you leave the systems up, there is a risk that the malware could move from one system to another.”

Moreland said that attacks aren’t stopping anytime soon. According to him, in the past year, attacks have gone up 300 percent, and it’s expected to go up exponentially. So what is being done to slow and/or stop these attacks?

“We started about 6 to 8 years ago doing regular cybersecurity audits,” Moreland said. “And the professionals come and try to attack your system and try to identify vulnerabilities.”

Wiregrass Electric also segments its systems so that one attack won’t knock out every system. The 4th of July attacked only hit one server out of fourty.

“As long as the network is segmented and as long as you detect it early and shut things down, the damages are limited to almost nothing,” Moreland said.