L.A. College Pays $28K to End Ransomware Attack

The cyberattack affected the data of around 20,000 students.
Published: January 10, 2017

A community college in Los Angeles paid ransomware hackers $28,000 to restore access to its computer network recently.

Los Angeles Valley College officials say they consulted with cybersecurity experts before making the bitcoin payment, which removed the malware from their network.

The hack began on Dec. 30, causing disruption to email, financial aid and voicemail services and locking 1,800 students and teachers out of their computers, according to abc7.com.

Overall, the data of around 20,000 students was affected in the cyberattack.

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College President Erika Endrijonas says officials determined it would be cheaper to pay the ransom than to attempt to remove the ransomware virus from each system.

“The general consensus was we needed to pay the ransom,” Endrijonas says. “We did and we got the codes back.”

College officials received a security key in exchange for the payment that restored access to their network. It does not appear a deeper data breach occurred.

Some people expressed concern that the payment will make similar hacks more likely in the future.

Now the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the attack to determine who is responsible.

Campus Safety has reported on several ransomware attacks on institutions recently, with payments leading to mixed results. Cybersecurity experts stress that hackers’ behavior is extremely unpredictable.

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