The security company SentinelOne, which has sent Freedom of Information (FOI) request to 71 UK-based universities, reported that 6 out of 10 institutions said they had been hit by a ransomware attack.
13 out of these 71 universities didn’t answer the request out of fear it would hurt their reputation. However, 63% of the 58 that answered, admitted to falling victims to ransomware attacks, with 58% saying they were attacked in the past year.
No university publicly admitted to paying the ransom demanded. They said they had managed to deal with the problem on their own without going into too much detail.
65% of the institutions which had experienced a ransomware attack said that they have been targeted more than once. The Bournemouth University admitted that, only in the past year, they have been infected 21 times.
Only four of the infected universities were willing to share how much money they were asked to pay for recovering their files. The ransom demanded from the Bournemouth University was $100, for the University of Bath it was $1,315 (2 Bitcoins), and from the Bath Spa University and the Brunel University, the crooks demanded $3,288 (5Bitcoins).
The most whooping ransom sum ever was paid by the Canadian University of Calgary earlier this year. They gave the cybercriminals the record-worthy amount of $15,500 to regain access to their locked information.
According to security companies, the ransomware distribution has experienced significant changes during the last couple of months. Cybercriminals have adapted operations from huge spam campaigns, targeting not only individual users but large institutions as well.
Universities` networks are compromised via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) attacks, spear-phishing, or other types of attacks. After that, they manually deploy a specially adapted piece of ransomware, which is actively scanning the local network for targets and infects as many companies` PCs as possible.
Bigger institutions are so appealing to cyber crooks mostly because they store a lot of valuable data and they may be willing to pay a much higher ransom sum to get it back. That’s why these companies should absolutely have reliable security and backup software.
However, most of the organizations don’t take any precautions just hoping they wouldn’t get attacked. For instance, Sentinel One reveals that both Kings College London and the very famous Oxford University confirmed these statement by saying they didn’t use any anti-virus programs.