University recovers Bitcoin ransom — with a huge profit

A university in the Netherlands made a considerable profit off a recovered Bitcoin ransom they paid to restore access to data compromised during a ransomware attack, German news broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports.

The Maastricht University suffered the attack in 2019, leaving staff and students cut off from valuable personal data, including academic work.

The hackers demanded that the university pay a €200,000 (R3.41 million) ransom in Bitcoin to regain access to the data.

According to the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, the university agreed to pay the ransom because the data was at risk of being lost.

That would leave some students unable to take exams or complete their academic papers.

Following an extensive investigation, Dutch police managed to identify the bank account of a money launderer in Ukraine into which €40,000 of the ransom had been paid.

Authorities seized the account and found it contained several cryptocurrencies.

They were able to return the portion of the ransom to the university around two years later.

Since then, the value of the Bitcoin in the account had increased from €40,000 (R681,875) to €500,000 (R8.52 million) — more than double the original ransom the university had paid.

Had the total ransom been recovered, the new value would have been €2.5 million (R42.62 million), assuming the same price per Bitcoin at the time.

Maastricht University’s ICT director Michiel Borgers said the additional €300,000 (R5.11 million) would go into a fund to help financially strapped students.

Police are still investigating the case in the hopes of identifying the perpetrators behind the attack.


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University recovers Bitcoin ransom — with a huge profit