The University of Calgary became the latest victim of ransomware and was forced to pay the cyberattackers $20,000.

"As part of efforts to maintain all options to address these systems issues, the university has paid a ransom totaling about $20,000 Cdn that was demanded as part of this ransomware attack," Linda Dalgetty, vice-president of finances and services, said in a statement.

The university does not believe that any of the data was released to the public and they are unsure of who the culprits are or where in the world they are located.

The attackers apparently gained access to the universities' faculty and staff email servers and encrypted them.

The university decided to pay the ransom "because we do world-class research here... and we did not want to be in a position that we had exhausted the option to get people's potential life work back in the future if they came today and said, "I'm encrypted, I can't get my files," said Dalgetty. "We did that solely so we could protect the quality and the nature of the information we generate at the university."

Thankfully, after paying the ransom, the attackers provided the university with the decryption keys and they were able regain control of their data.

The university credited its IT department with quickly isolating the infection restoring large portions of the data that was taken. Likely restoring from some form of data backup.

On June 6, email was available again to faculty and staff.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise in 2016 in what the university called "a disturbing global trend of highly sophisticated and malicious malware attacks against organizations including NASA, law enforcement agencies and large health-care institutions".

The tactics used by cyberattackers is ever changing, but offsite backup continues to serve as a principle line of defense. Having a copy of your data to restore from could be the difference between losing years of research, as in this case - or simply hours of access to your email.


 

Patrick Rougeau

Technical Sales Engineer, KeepItSafe