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Ransomware attacks remain a constant threat to our society, even in 2017. The Los Angeles Valley College was forced to pay US$28,000 worth of Bitcoin as a result of a ransomware attack. Institutions like these cannot afford to have hundreds of thousands of files encrypted for an extended period.It remains unclear which type of malware was used during the attack, or whether the college had a data backup that could have prevented paying such a vast sum of money.

Los Angeles Valley College Pays Hefty Bitcoin Price

Ransomware attacks are becoming more popular among cyber criminals as of late. Infecting a high-value target such as an enterprise or a college can result in a very large payday for crooks. The Los Angeles Valley College decided to meet the US$28,000 ransom demand after they saw all files on their servers get encrypted.

Even though the college IT staff discovered the ransomware infection within hours, the damage was already done.  Staff members were locked out of critical files hosted across the college’s multiple servers. Moreover, important campus services ground to a halt, including the entire college network, email services, and the phone system.

Considering how Los Angeles Valley College is home to nearly 20,000 students, rectifying the matter promptly was of the utmost importance. However, the College left the decision to pay the ransom demand until the last moment. A rather strange decision, but things were solved in time to resume normal day-to-day operations before things got out of hand.

Albeit meeting the ransom demand is never advised, it still presents the highest probability of restoring access to affected systems. Victims are at the mercy of the criminals distributing the ransomware, though. So far, most criminals honor the “promise” to share the decryption key with the victim, but that is never a guarantee. Especially when large amounts of money change hands, a significant amount of trust is required to transfer the Bitcoin amount of the criminals.

Things turned out alright for Los Angeles Valley College in the end, as the criminals handed over the decryption key once the payment was made. However, it remained up to the IT staff to decrypt files one by one, which resulted in a painstaking process. However, there is a silver lining for the College, as they took out a cyber-insurance for events like this not too long ago.

It is believed the college will be able to recover some of the losses suffered through this insurance. That has not been confirmed at this point, though, and it remains to be seen if they will be able to recover ay amount of money at all.  Cyber-insurance protecting institutions from ransomware losses can quickly become the new norm, though, as demand for such services is on the rise all over the world.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

About JP Buntinx

JP is a freelance copywriter and SEO writer who is passionate about various topics. The majority of his work focuses on Bitcoin, blockchain, and financial technology. He is contributing to major news sites all over the world, including NewsBTC, The Merkle, Samsung Insights, and TransferGo.