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University gets ransom payment after cyberattack, with 'super interest'

University gets ransom payment after cyberattack, with ‘super interest’

Updated on 07/03/2022 10:49 am

  • In 2019, Maastricht University paid a ransom of 200,000 in Bitcoin after a cyber attack.
  • Years later, the university is now recouping some of the money.
  • However, this amounts to about 500,000 euros due to the explosion in value of the Internet currency.

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A Dutch university recovered some of the stolen money after a massive internet attack, and with “super interest”: Maastricht University received a €200,000 ransom in 2019 Bitcoin paid, reported the newspaper “De Volkskrant” on Saturday. The university is now only recovering a part of this, but this also represents around 500,000 euros due to the explosion in the value of the Internet currency.

According to information, the university suffered a large-scale cyberattack in 2019. The criminals used so-called ransomware, a type of malware that blocks or restricts access to data until the victim pays a ransom.

The criminals encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems so that “25,000 students and employees could no longer access academic data, the library, or mail.” According to the report, the pirates demanded 200,000 euros in Bitcoin. After a week, the university decided to pay the money because “the personal data was at risk of being lost and the students could no longer take the exams or work on their theses.”

Maastricht University recovers 500,000 euros instead of 40,000

Dutch police traced some of the ransom money to the account of a money launderer in Ukraine. In 2020, prosecutors seized the account, which contained several different cryptocurrencies, including €40,000 ransom paid by Maastricht University.

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“When it was finally possible to recover the money after more than two years, the value had risen from €40,000 to half a million euros,” the newspaper wrote. Therefore, the university will recover 500,000 euros.

The amount will go to a fund to support financially weak students, the university said. According to the newspaper report, investigations into the hackers are ongoing. (AFP/lh)

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