From Iceland — Hackers Set Sights On Reykjavík University

Hackers Set Sights On Reykjavík University

Published October 19, 2021

Desirai Thompson
Photo by
Háskólinn í Reykjavík/Facebook

Hackers who attacked Reykjavík University’s (RU) mail server and encrypted e-mails last week are seeking a ransom. According to RÚV, one server housing staff e-mails received limited damage and no student e-mails were involved in the attack as they are stored in a different way.

Never pay the ransom

An announcement from the  university stated, “A letter was left on the mail server demanding that RU pay a $10,000 redemption fee (about ISK 1.3 million), otherwise the employees’ e-mails will be made public. There is a 14-day deadline to pay the ransom.” 

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Over the weekend, the university’s IT staff received assistance from the police, cybercrime experts from Advania, the computer security company Syndis and others in preventing damage and assessing the scope of the attack.

While the university does not believe that these are well-organised attacks, Ragnhildur Helgadóttir, Rector of Reykjavík University, says attacks of these sorts are more common that one might expect. She stated, “We are working with the country’s most competent experts in the field of cybercrime and they are told that RU’s computer security issues are generally good, although that has not been enough to prevent an attack in this case.”

Regardless, RU remains committed to their position–in accordance with police guidelines–to not succumb to threats of blackmail.

Global concern for cyberattacks

Earlier this year, a Gallup poll conducted for Origo found that 90% of Icelandic executives expected an increase in cyberattacks this year. At the time, Inga Steinunn Björgvinsdóttir, sales manager for cloud and security solutions at Origo shared that, “A PWC survey shows that 71% of senior executives in the United States are very concerned about cyberattacks.”

Data from Statista shows that there roughly 5.6 billion malware attacks took place across the globe in 2020. That number was down from 9.9 billion the year prior after reaching a peak in 2018 with 10.5 billion attacks.

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