Suspected to be NetWalker ransomware group behind the attack, University of Utah already lost around $500,000 to these anonymous hackers.

The tertiary Institution in Utah, America paid the ransomware gang so their data will not leak to the public. University of Utah marks as the latest victim in a string of ransomware attacks that targeted tertiary institutions.

Through a post on the school’s website, the institution revealed on Thursday that it was the target of a ransomware attack on July 19. The statement explained further that the hackers managed to encrypt only 0.02 percent of the data stored on its servers.

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They, however, never mentioned how they paid the ransom to the hackers if they did in fiat or cryptocurrencies. However, cybersecurity experts believe the school paid the ransom in Bitcoin.

How ransomware hacker nailed University of Utah

The group managed to get in on the University’s College of Social and Behavioral Science servers. The servers had data of students and university staffs and they threatened to leak stolen data online. The school paid a ransom of $457,059.

“After careful consideration, the university decided to work with its cyber insurance provider to pay a fee to the ransomware attacker. It was as a proactive and preventive step to ensure no data got on the internet,” the University said.

The school added that its cyber-insurance policy covered part of the ransom. The University said No tuition, grant, donation, state or taxpayer funds got in the hands of the hackers as ransom.

Why suspect NetWalker group?

A threat analyst at cyber-security firm Emsisoft, Bret Callow in an interview said that the hack most likely perpetrated by operators of NetWalker ransomware.

Previously, NetWalker ransomware group attacked other tertiary institutions. Columbia College Chicago, Michigan State University, and the City University of Seattle are some past victims of the group.

The University of California also paid $1.14 million to the hackers a few weeks ago being another victim.

Popular antivirus software developer, McAfee, published a report on NetWalker’s activities where it revealed the group already made $25 million from ransomware payments. The antivirus firm researchers revealed that they found a large sum of Bitcoin linked to NetWalker.

This points out that it has successfully extorted several victims. Many of its previous victims already had no choice than to oblige to the hacker group demands.