The University of Calgary has admitted to paying cybercriminals some CDN20,000 (about RM64,000) to regain control of its computers after a ransomware attack. The incident began some 10 days ago when unidentified malware took the University’s servers offline; preventing students and faculty members from accessing their email.
The extent of the damage was not revealed, although a public announcement from Linda Dalgetty, Vice-President, Finance and Services says that the institution’s IT department had managed to contain the attack before it did too much damage. Despite this, the University still decided to pay the ransom to ensure that it managed to recover as much data as possible.
“We are a research institution, we are conducting world-class research daily and we don’t know what we don’t know in terms of who’s been impacted. The last thing we want to do is lose someone’s life’s work,” Dalgetty told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.
Ransomware attacks on businesses and institutions are becoming more common as of late. It is unknown if these victims were deliberately targeted, or if they are simply unfortunate enough to be caught in a wider campaign targeted at individuals.
Experts have cautioned in the past that cybercriminals could potentially see lucrative targets in places like universities and hospitals; as these victims have proven to reliably pay for the encryption keys to restore their networks.
The University of Calgary has engaged the assistance of law enforcement agencies to track down those responsible for the cyberattack.