NYC College Hit by Ransomware Hackers Demanding $1.9m in Bitcoin

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A spate of ransomware attacks has been sweeping across the United States in recent weeks, with a New York College becoming the latest victim. Monroe College in Manhattan has been infected with a strain of ransomware that has encrypted all of the college’s systems and is demanding a massive 170 BTC in order to release the system. For the time being, the college has not yet announced whether it will pay the hackers the ransom or reset their systems and restore from backups, but we’re likely to see a decision made in the next few days.

Business as Usual for Monroe College

The two previous ransomware attacks to hit establishments in the US have ground businesses to a halt, but Munroe College isn’t going down without a fight. In a Facebook it apologized for its website being out of order and said that it’s open for business as usual. Student activities will carry on normally, students will continue to be enrolled for September, and classes are still going ahead.

If there is a way to deal with hackers looking to inflict as much damage as possible, this has to be the best way possible. Monroe College is essentially sticking two fingers up to the hackers and saying you don’t scare us, we can function without IT systems.

American Governments Getting Hit

Back in June, the Riviera Beach, FL local government was hit by ransomware after a police officer opened an infected attachment in an email. Hackers demanded 65 BTC to decrypt servers and release the local government, a fee which the government happily paid. Weeks later, Georgia’s judiciary system was hit by a similar attack – it’s the second attack in just under a year. Georgia has yet to pay the ransom, but if it acts the same way it did last time we will likely see it opt to restore the systems manually rather than paying hackers.

Restore from Backup

One of the options facing Munroe College is simply wiping all their tech and restoring from a backup. Colleges tend to do backups weekly, meaning there is very little data that could be lost. Sure, hundreds of students might lose entire chunks of term papers, but this is why it’s taking Munroe College so long to make a decision. It’s by far the simplest decision, and all impacted students could be granted extra time for their term papers.

This stance from Monroe College is exactly what institutions need to do when faced with ransomware attacks. Rather than panicking, it has dealt with the situation in a calm and effective manner. Hackers will think twice before hitting a college again that’s for sure.