#CyberFLASH: Carleton University says it didn’t pay hacker’s ransom after cyberattack

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Carleton University confirms its IT network was attacked by ransomware — a type of computer virus that uses encryption to effectively hold files hostage in exchange for payment — but said it didn’t pay any ransom.

Systems are coming back online little by little after the problem appeared Tuesday morning, Roseann O’Reilly Runte told CBC News on Wednesday.

Classes are happening as regularly scheduled and Wi-Fi is available on campus, she said.

No ransom was paid, according to university spokesperson Don Cumming.

The university is expected to make a statement at 4 p.m. ET.

A graduate student at the university emailed CBC Tuesday to say the attackers asked for payment in bitcoin, a digital currency that is difficult to trace. According to a message he saw on a school computer, the attackers are asking for either two bitcoin per machine, or 39 bitcoin total to release the encrypted files — the latter equalling nearly $38,941 at today’s rate on the popular Bitcoin exchange Coinbase.

Students, employees warned Tuesday

On Tuesday morning, students and employees were warned that any Windows-based system accessible from the main network may have been compromised after an external group apparently attempted to hack the school’s IT network.

“To reduce traffic on the network, it is recommended that users refrain from using Microsoft Windows systems at the current time and shut down your computer,” the school warned in a message posted on its website and Facebook page.

On Wednesday, the university’s IT department said work is continuing to restore email services.

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