University of California gets fleeced by hackers for $1.14 million

University studying the coronavirus had data stolen then held hostage

The University of California has been hit by a ransomware attack that cost the institution $1.14 million. 

A ransomware criminal gang called “Netwalker” hacked the university’s servers and encrypted large amounts of data, some of which university officials told BBC News is “important to some of the academic work we pursue as a university serving the public good.”

Authorities advise against companies paying the ransom as there is no guarantee that the attackers will release the data or destroy their own copies of it. It also serves to fund their criminal enterprises. Regardless, the University of California representatives decided to move forward with the negotiations.

An anonymous tip to BBC News allowed them to follow the negotiations on the dark web, which they published on Tuesday. The criminals’ original asking price was $3 million as they pointed out that the University pulls in “$4-5 billions per year.”

The UC negotiator countered with $780,000 saying that the pandemic has been hard on the university’s finances. 

After a long afternoon of negotiations, the two sides settled on a price of $1,140,895 to be delivered in bitcoin. The UC is working with law enforcement officials to investigate the case. On Memorial Day, Michigan State University faced a similar situation but took a hard stand to not pay the ransom. 

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to protect themselves against ransomware attacks. Backing up files offline is highly recommended as well as thorough training of staff on cybersecurity. Most attacks start with a single phishing email being opened.

Featured Resources

2021 Thales cloud security study

The challenges of cloud data protection and access management in a hybrid and multi cloud world

Free download

IDC agility assessment

The competitive advantage in adaptability

Free Download

Digital transformation insights from CIOs for CIOs

Transformation pilotes, co-pilots, and engineers

Free download

What ITDMs did next - and what they should be doing now

Enable continued collaboration and communication for hybrid workers

Recommended

Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security review: Great cloud-managed malware protection
endpoint security

Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security review: Great cloud-managed malware protection

7 Dec 2021
BitMart suspends withdrawals following hack
cryptocurrencies

BitMart suspends withdrawals following hack

6 Dec 2021
Bridging the DevSecOps divide: Spotlight on key relationships
Whitepaper

Bridging the DevSecOps divide: Spotlight on key relationships

3 Dec 2021
Planned Parenthood cyber attack exposes data of 400,000 patients
cyber attacks

Planned Parenthood cyber attack exposes data of 400,000 patients

3 Dec 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft seizes domains used by Chinese hacking group
cyber attacks

Microsoft seizes domains used by Chinese hacking group

7 Dec 2021
Australia film archive gets $41.9 million to digitise audiovisual heritage
digitisation

Australia film archive gets $41.9 million to digitise audiovisual heritage

6 Dec 2021
VMware Cloud workload migration tools
Whitepaper

VMware Cloud workload migration tools

3 Dec 2021