Dutch university recovers extorted money, with interest – rts.ch

The victim of a ransomware cyberattack in 2019, the University of Maastricht will recover two and a half times the amount that was then extorted from it in bitcoins, reported the daily De Volkskrant. The bonus comes from the jump in value of the cryptocurrency.

The Dutch university’s computer systems had been locked down in 2019 by ransomware, a type of malware that hackers unlock by paying a certain amount of money.

“The criminals had encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems, preventing 25,000 students and employees from accessing scientific data, the library and mail,” says De Volkskrant. They demanded 200,000 euros in bitcoins, which the university paid after a week.

For struggling students

But the Dutch police traced back part of the ransom, paid into an account belonging to a money launderer in Ukraine. In 2020, justice seized the account of this man, which contained different cryptocurrencies, including part of the sum paid by the University of Maastricht.

“When […] after more than two years, it was finally possible to send this money to the Netherlands, its value had gone from 40,000 euros to half a million euros”, indicates the newspaper. The University of Maastricht will therefore recover the 500,000 euros.

“This money will not go into a general fund, but into a fund to help students in financial difficulty,” said the director of information and communication technologies (ICT) at Maastricht University. The investigation into the computer attack on the university is still ongoing, De Volkskrant added.


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