Crazy turn after cyber attack
Uni pay scammers a ransom – and even make a profit
A university in the Netherlands has been attacked and has paid hackers a huge ransom. Now the money has been repaid – “at super interest”.
Published: 03/07/2022 at 11:40 a.m.
They cheated and still make a profit! A Dutch university has recovered part of the stolen funds after a massive cyber attack – and at “super interest”: Maastricht University paid a ransom of €200,000 in Bitcoin in 2019, daily de Volkskrant reported Saturday. The university now only gets a portion of that refund – but that also accounts for around €500,000 due to the explosion in the value of the internet’s currency.
According to the information, the university was subjected to a large-scale cyber attack in 2019. The criminals used the so-called ransomware, a type of malware that blocks or restricts access to data until the victim pays a ransom.
Criminals have encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems so that “25,000 students and employees can no longer access scientific data, the library, or the mail.” According to the report, the hackers requested €200,000 in Bitcoin.
Financially Vulnerable Students Fund
A week later, the university decided to pay the money because “personal data was at risk of being lost and students were no longer able to take exams or work on their thesis.”
Dutch police traced part of the ransom money to a money launderer account in Ukraine. In 2020, prosecutors seized the account containing a number of different cryptocurrencies, including 40,000 euros in ransom paid by Maastricht University. “When it was finally possible to recover the money after more than two years, the value rose from 40,000 euros to half a million euros,” the newspaper wrote. Thus the university will receive 500,000 euros.
The university said the money will flow into a fund to support financially vulnerable students. According to the newspaper report, investigations are underway with the hackers. (AFP/JMH)
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