Three U.S. universities have been the victims of ransomware attacks in the past week, according to Cointelegraph.
The information comes from a ransomware gang, boasting that they successfully attacked the University of California San Francisco on June 3, the most recent attack.
Before that, the group claimed to have attacked Michigan State University and Columbia College of Chicago, in a dark web blog accessed by Cointelegraph. In the blog post, the ransomware gang says they can release stolen data on student names, Social Security numbers, and financial information in less than a week if a crypto payment in Bitcoin is not made.
Brett Callow, threat analyst at malware lab Emsisoft, was one of the first who spotted the issue. He told Cointelgraph that these kinds of attacks are costly and enormously disruptive.
Emsisoft's latest data states there were 89 universities, colleges and other school districts impacted by ransomware in 2019, with possibly up to 1,233 individual schools affected in total, Cointelegraph reported. At least 30 districts for various higher education types have been affected thus far in 2020, Callow said.
Callow said that even if the universities pay up the ransom, "that will not solve the problem as they will only have a pinky promise," according to Cointelgraph.
Cryptocurrency-related crimes have been on the rise as of late, with a total of $1.4 billion in fraud, hacks and theft in just the first five months of 2020, according to a study by crypto intelligence company CipherTrace.
The thefts, CipherTrace found, have only been expedited by the pandemic, which has pounced on the worldwide confusion. The fraud can take place in a number of ways, often by phishing or impersonation scams to prey on those who may not be aware.
Callow said education institutions should make sure that their systems are properly patched, their emails filtered, PowerShell turned off when not needed and multi-factor authentication used in any situation possible, Cointelegraph reported.