News / Ottawa

Carleton says it didn't pay to restore network after ransomware attack

Information technology staff spent Wednesday repairing the network and trying to restore the Carleton email network.

Carleton University logo on the side of the school's parking garage.

Haley Ritchie

Carleton University logo on the side of the school's parking garage.

Carleton University continued to struggle Wednesday with the fallout of a cyber attack that locked up the university’s computer network attack.

While the school said people could use the network again by Tuesday night, information technology staff spent Wednesday repairing the network and trying to restore the Carleton email network.

Around 4 p.m., the university confirmed that no personal information had been accessed and email was functioning normally. Students and staff who still couldn’t use their computers were instructed to contact the service desk for help.

On Tuesday, staff and students were warned not to use the Windows-based computers on the network.

Some university computers were seeing ransomware messages demanding payment in bitcoin.

Ransomware is a malicious software that can hold access to the system – including personal files – “ransom” until a sum of money is paid. The demand is usually for thousands of dollars.

Carleton spokesperson Chris Cline confirmed Wednesday that Carleton did not pay any ransom money to restore the network.

Steven Reid, another spokesperson for the university, said the network has faced issues before, but nothing of this scale.

“Any institution of any size has smaller attacks or issues, but I don’t recall anything of this size,” he said.

Carleton isn’t the only victim of ransomware attacks. In June the University of Calgary was targeted and paid $20,000 to access their files.

After that incident the RCMP recommended that victims not pay ransoms. The money could encourage more acts and there is no guarantee the criminals will free up locked computers.

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