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Another Canadian uni hit by ransomware, students told to keep Windows PCs away

Network crippled by extortion software nasty

By Iain Thomson, 29 Nov 2016

Carleton University in Ontario, Canada, has confirmed it has been hit by a ransomware infection that crippled some of the Windows machines on its main campus.

Systems at the university started to go down on Tuesday, and its IT department reported that email, network drives and the central university student portal had all crashed. It warned those students using Windows PCs not to access the system.

"This was ransomware," a university spokesman told The Register on Tuesday afternoon. "It's hard to say at this point when the problem will be sorted out, but it is now safe to log back in to the network."

The ransom demanded by the attackers was reportedly 39 Bitcoin (US$28,495 / CA$38,274), but it appears as though the university hasn't paid up and is fixing the problems internally from backups. In the meantime, it is warning students not to pay.

"Individuals may see ransom-ware messages appear on their screens, demanding payments via bit coins," the university's IT department warned. "Users are asked to ignore all messages seeking a payment and are encouraged to report these messages to the CCS Help Desk."

This isn't the first time Canadian centers of learning have been hit. In June, the University of Calgary took a major hit from ransomware and paid up a five-figure sum to the attackers in exchange for its files back. Such a craven display may have encouraged today's attack. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing