Ransomware a big problem among UK universities

A large portion of British universities admitted to have been victims of a ransomware attack.

 Academic institutions are frequent victims of ransomware attacks, according to a new report by security researchers SentinelOne. The company made a Freedom of Information request towards British universities, and says that almost two thirds (63 per cent) of those who responded admitted to have been attacked. Among those attacked, more than half (56 per cent) were attacked in the last year alone. In one, particularly depressing case, a university was attacked 21 times.  Thirteen refused to answer as they feared it might hurt their commercial interests, and only two said they didn't have a cyber-security solution in place. The rest did, and apparently it made no difference. Attackers usually demanded between £77 and £2299, an equivalent of five bitcoins. Brunel was the only university to contact the police, with the rest deciding to handle things internally. “The fact that all but one of those suffering a ransomware attack had an anti-malware solution installed, confirms the abject failure of traditional solutions to protect against the new, virulent strains of ransomware. In one particular case, Bournemouth University found themselves to be the most targeted institution, with a deeply concerning 21 attacks in the last year,” said Jeremiah Grossman, Chief of Security Strategy at SentinelOne.  “The fact that 65 per cent of those universities suffering an attack were the victim of repeated attacks, where no ransom was [allegedly] paid, may prompt us to question the motives of the adversary as more than purely financial.” Ransomware is a type of malware which encrypts all data on a computer, and requests payment in bitcoin in exchange for the decryption key.