Valley College is under a deadline to pay ransom or face the loss of its computer files.
see UPDATE here!
By D.R. Harward and Solomon Smith
Hackers recently broke into Valley College’s servers seizing file, email and messaging systems and are ransoming them for almost $30,000.
The cyber attackers left the college a note on one of its servers’ X-drives, requesting the money to be paid by BitCoin.
“You have 7 days to send us the BitCoin after 7 days we will remove your private keys and it’s impossible to recover your files,” said the ransom note that appeared on the college’s servers six days ago.
The extortionists’ note details the process for payment, using point-by-point instructions. It includes specifics about how to purchase BitCoins, access their site and where to buy the cryptocurrency. Much like a new start up tech company, there is even a “demo” of the decryption stating: “Check our site, you can upload two encrypted files and we will decrypt your files as demo.”
Wednesday, the college sent text and email alerts notifying staff and students of the breach and the ensuing investigation. A link to a statement put out by Valley College President Erika Endrijonas assured students that the winter classes have not been affected, including the online classes on Canvas.
Valley is not alone in facing this sort of attack, according to the BBC. Harvard University, University of California-Berkeley and M.I.T. have been amongst a growing legion of schools victimized by ransomware recently. Ransomware first appeared in 2006 in Russia and their effectiveness has been steadily improving ever since according to USA Today.
According to a whitepaper from MalwareBytes Labs about 1,500 attacks occurred in the United States in 2015 and almost 9 percent were directed at educational institutions.
But, educational institutions are not the only ones dealing with the problem, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center recently paid $17,000 in Bitcoin, the police department in Swansea, Mass. paid $750 to unlock their computers and the U.S. House of Representatives has banned emails from Yahoo mail servers in response to ransomware attacks according to the BBC.
The Valley Star contacted the president’s office, but Endijonas was unavailable for comment.