A Canadian university has been forced to pay $20,000 to hackers after they managed to infect its servers with so-called ransomware, which threatened to permanently randomise their data unless payment was made for a decryption key.
The University of Calgary duly transferred the sum in Canadian dollars after its own IT workers failed to eradicate the malware despite spending more than a week on the challenge.
University vice president Linda Dalgetty said: “The university is now in the process of assessing and evaluating the decryption keys.
"The actual process of decryption is time-consuming and must be performed with care.
"It is important to note that decryption keys do not automatically restore all systems or guarantee the recovery of all data."
Critics have slammed the university for acquiescing to the criminal demands, warning that it risks opening the floodgates to other similar such attacks in future.
IT experts are already warning of more than 120 separate strains of such software currently propagating at ‘alarming’ speed, many of which are regularly amended by their creators to thwart attempts at blocking them.