With doubled bitcoin value
Maastricht University gets cyber ransom back
07/02/2022, 2:50 p.m
Maastricht University is unwittingly benefiting from the crypto boom. Because she paid the ransom for a cyber extortion in Bitcoin in 2019, the confiscation of a money laundering account years later provides a whopping surplus.
A Dutch university got back part of the stolen money after a massive Internet attack – and with “super interest”: Maastricht University paid a ransom of 200,000 euros in Bitcoin in 2019, the daily newspaper “De Volkskrant” reported. The university is now only getting a part of this back – but this also accounts for around 500,000 euros due to the explosion in value of the Internet currency.
According to the information, the university was hit by a large-scale cyber attack 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 the mail”. According to the report, the hackers demanded 200,000 euros in Bitcoin. After a week, 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 theses”.
Money laundering account in Ukraine
Dutch police traced part of the ransom money back to a money launderer’s account in Ukraine. In 2020, prosecutors seized the account, which held a number of different cryptocurrencies, including €40,000 of the ransom paid by Maastricht University. “When it was finally possible to get the money back after more than two years, the value had risen from 40,000 euros to half a million euros,” the newspaper wrote. The university will therefore get back 500,000 euros.
The amount is to flow into a fund to support financially weak students, the university said. According to the newspaper report, investigations into the hackers are ongoing.
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