Two More Universities Hit with NetWalker Ransomware

As we have written in the past – ransomware has become Extortionware and most recently has an affiliate program. NetWalker ransomware has generous payouts allowing an affiliate to earn more than a million dollars if they can infect a large organization. Recently, Michigan State University was hacked with this Extortionware. In addition, University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Columbia College Chicago have been infected. Columbia was founded in 1890, it has around six-thousand students and can cost $45,644 per year to attend before financial aid. Many of the degrees are entertainment related such as Acoustics, Arts management and Audio Arts.

The latter two colleges are said to have paid the ransom before information was leaked on the internet but it is now owned by the hackers and it is unknown if it could be used to extort from them in the future. It is also unknown if information contained in the stolen information can or will be used to extort from others.

NetWalker was discovered in August 2019 by ID Ransomware, according to BleepingComputer. It was initially named Mailto based on the extension that was appended to encrypted files, but ransomware recovery company Coveware later discovered a decryptor for the ransomware that indicated that the developer’s name for the infection was NetWalker.

NetWalker compromises networks and encrypts all Windows devices connected to them, BleepingComputer indicated. When executed, NetWalker uses an embedded configuration that includes a ransom note template, ransom note file names and various configuration options.

To keep your organization secure be sure to schedule regular cybersecurity assessments.

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