What are your files worth to you? $100? $500? $5,000? For the University of Calgary, these numbers are child’s play. The university was recently hit with a ransomware attack forcing them to pay $20,000 CAD (about $16,000 USD) to decrypt their files.

According to CBC, little is known about the attack at this time. University officials are unsure of how the ransomware found its way into their system and who is responsible for the attack. According to Linda Dalgetty, VP of Finances and Services at the university, there is no indication that any university data or personal information was released to the public.

Dalgetty said the decision to pay the ransom was “because we do world-class research here … and we did not want to be in a position that we had exhausted the option to get people’s potential life work back in the future if they came today and said, ‘I’m encrypted, I can’t get my files.’”

With the ransom now paid, they’re back in business. However, as we’ve seen recently, paying the ransom does not guarantee your data will be decrypted.

Why is ransomware so successful?

IT Pro Portal delved into why 2016 has been such a huge year for ransomware. While there are multiple factors, one of the main reasons is the evolution of the strains. As new forms of ransomware come out, they are harder to detect and more efficient at encrypting your files. IT Pro Portal suggest the reason for ransomware’s longevity comes down to two factors:

  • People pay the ransom
  • People do not take proper backups

Their advice:

  • Proper functioning backups allow systems to be restored to a point in time before the infection occurred, thus removing the ransomware. (sound familiar?)
  • If the cybercriminals aren’t paid, the business model collapses.

If you’re looking for more tips and information on all things ransomware, including common types and how to best protect yourself, download our eBook: The Business Guide To Ransomware.