The University of Maastricht has reportedly paid a ransom of “several hundred thousand euros” to hackers in order to regain access to its systems after it was hit with a severe ransomware attack.
The university acknowledged that it had been hit with a ransomware attack on Christmas Eve 2019 and said that almost all of its Windows systems had been hit. The attack prevented the university from accessing its data and also affected its email services.
In the days following the attack, the university reported that it had filed an official police report, temporarily taken its systems offline, and was working to gets its systems restored. It also told students and staff to “not perform any actions on UM [University of Maastricht] computers or systems” and that they would have to change their passwords.
Now, according to Observant, an independent weekly magazine from the University of Maastricht, the university has paid the ransom and “may have paid a few hundred thousand euros.” Observant spoke with sources at the University of Maastricht who added that the ransom was most likely paid in bitcoins and that the hackers have now handed over the key which made the university's systems accessible again.
While the University of Maastricht has not yet provided any information regarding communication with the hackers, it has confirmed that “the most important education-related computers systems” are up and running again in a limited capacity.
This incident is the latest of several ransomware attacks to affect large institutions over the last year. In 2019, a city in Florida was hit with a ransomware attack and ultimately paid $600,000 to regain access to its systems. Government computers in the city of Baltimore were also hit by a ransomware attack earlier in the year.