April 1, 2023

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The Netherlands University recovered the extorted money with interest

The Netherlands University recovered the extorted money with interest

A Dutch university hit by a ransomware cyberattack in 2019 will recover two-and-a-half times the extortion amount in bitcoins… thanks to the cryptocurrency’s continued rise in value, daily De Volksrant reported.

The computer systems of Maastricht University in the south of the country were locked down in 2019 by ransomware, a type of malware that hackers unlock without paying a certain amount of money.

“Criminals encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems, preventing 25,000 students and staff from accessing scientific data, the library and mail,” reports the daily De Volkskrant.

They demanded 200,000 euros in bitcoins and a week later the university decided to grant their request because personal data could be lost, while students could not take exams or work. Their theses, the paper continues.

However, Dutch police discovered that part of the ransom was paid into a money launderer’s account in Ukraine. In 2020, the Department of Justice seized this man’s account containing various cryptocurrencies, including a portion of the amount paid by Maastricht.

“Now, more than two years later, we managed to get this money to the Netherlands, and its value went from 40,000 euros to half a million euros,” the newspaper said.

Maastricht University will reimburse 500,000 euros ($521,000).

“This money will not go to a general fund, but to a fund with the aim of helping students in financial difficulty,” said Michiel Borgers, 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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