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A Canadian University Paid Hackers A $20,000 Ransom To Get Its Computer Network Back

Ransomeware attacks are on the rise.

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The University of Calgary says it paid a $20,000 ransom to hackers who had taken the school's computer network hostage.

University of Calgary

The school's computer network was infected with ransomware, malicious software that locks users out until they pay up.

Staff and faculty emails are back online as of Monday, according to the school. It's not clear what other systems were affected.

"There is no indication that any personal or other university data was released to the public," vice president Linda Dalgetty said in a statement.

Security experts warn that ransomware attacks are on the rise. Hospitals, schools, and even NASA computers have been targeted.

Weerapatkiatdumrong / Getty Images

According to the security software company Sophos, the average ransom payment ranges from $300 to $600 — usually paid via bitcoin, making the payment virtually untraceable.

What the software usually does is to encrypt users' data, thereby making it inaccessible without a decryption key. The University of Calgary says it has gotten a decryption key and is unscrambling its systems.

"It is important to note that decryption keys do not automatically restore all systems or guarantee the recovery of all data," Dalgetty said. "A great deal of work is still required by IT to ensure all affected systems are operational again, and this process will take time."

Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at

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