New York City College Struck by Ransomware, $1.9 Million in Bitcoin Demanded

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Munroe College in Manhattan has been hit by a ransomware attack that has shut down the college’s computer systems. The hackers are demanding 170 bitcoin (BTC), which is roughly $1.9 million. The malware infection came to light on the morning of July 10, but the specifications of the infection are still largely unknown, as reported by Bleeping Computer, July 12, 2019.

College Network Shutdown

At 2:45 AM PST, Monroe College’s entire computer network was shut down by an unknown ransomware, with hackers demanding they pay 170 BTC to restore their data and network state. While the details of the infection aren’t known yet, it is likely to be Ryuk, IEncrypt, or Sodinokibi – all of which are notorious for targeting enterprises.

The college has not indicated as to whether they will be paying the ransom or simply resetting their hardware and restoring their data from backups to bring their network back online. A spokesperson for the college was quoted saying “the good news is that the college was founded in 1933, so we know to teach and educate without these tools”.

The outage has even brought down the college’s public website and not just internal servers. When visiting the website, a 504 error shows up, indicating a server error.

Monroe took to Facebook to address this, stating they have rolled up their sleeves and begun working on getting everything up and running again.

This attack adds on to the already of organizations and cities that have been targeted by ransomware, demanding payment in cryptocurrency in order to restore user data. Earlier this year, Baltimore fell victim to a large scale ransomware and the entire city’s government directories were rendered non-functional. Furthermore, hackers had seeded ransomware through giveaways of BTC and ETH.

Unending Onslaught of Hacks

Computers and the internet have broadened our development by an exponential level, but the lack of a security algorithm that can withstand any attack for more than five years is a severe flaw that exposes our entire system to a potential hack.

In a deep dive into the effect of quantum computing on cryptocurrencies by BTCManager, it was seen that it takes hardly three to five years for an entire security algorithm to be broken down by exposing several small flaws that allow bad actors a gateway into the system.

Technology is scaling as fast as software, making it easier for scam artists and criminals to get away with such activity. However, security through cold storage i.e. locking your data on a device that doesn’t connect to a network is arguably the safest way to store data.

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