After the December 2019 ransomware attack, the police in the Netherlands managed to save Maastricht University (UM), which is located in Netherland. They are now able to recover Bitcoin (BTC) worth nearly EUR500,000.
Ransomware was used to encrypt the university’s research data, emails, and library resources. The hackers demanded EUR200,000 worth of BTC. The university agreed to pay the amount in fear of losing crucial research data.
The Dutch Public Prosecution Service managed to locate one of the cryptocurrency wallets involved in the hack in Ukraine in 2020 and frozen funds in the account that was only EUR40,000. The account contained nearly half of the stolen BTC, which was secured by the DPPS over the next two-years.
The authorities have recovered EUR500,000 in part ransom. This is more than twice the amount that university paid two years ago.
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In an official statement, the university stated that although the ransom recovered is more expensive than the original amount, it can’t undo the damage done by hackers. In a blog post, the university stated:
“The Netherlands Public Prosecution Service was able smuggle cryptocurrency worth around EUR500,000, which could be made available to UM. Although this is less than the damages sustained by the university, it is a substantial sum that can be used to help students in need.
The DPPS has the seized funds and a legal proceeding is underway to transfer the funds the university. The university’s executive board has decided to use the funds to aid students in financial need.
Authorities have taken crypto funds. This highlights the importance and transparency of a public ledger system that is decentralized and transparent. Although critics portray crypto as opaque and anonymous, research data shows that less than one percent of crypto currently in circulation is linked to illicit activities.
Even ransom-crypto funds that were stolen or ransom are often tracked down, and sometimes even recovered. The Colonial Pipeline ransom was paid by the United States and the authorities were able to recover $2.3 Million in crypto.
Eileen Wilson –Technology and Energy
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