A Ransomware Attack

Scotland: A cyber extortion gang has put data that purports to be related to the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) up for sale.

The university acknowledged having system problems previously this month, which it described as a “cyber incident.”

The secret data is now being demanded for 20 bitcoin (£450,000) by the ransomware gang Rhysida, who claim they would sell it to the highest possible bidder.

UWS has been contacted by the BBC for comment as the police investigation continues.

uws university

The incident was originally reported to police on July 6.  The university’s website was unavailable at the moment, and an error message apologized for the “inconvenience.”

No criminal organization initially claimed responsibility, but Rhysida is now asserting blame and seems to have attempted to extort the university using the stolen data.

Data from staff members, such as bank account information and social security numbers, as well as internal university documents, are marketed on the gang’s deep web domain.

The group listing can be verified as actual by the BBC, but the data’s veracity cannot be confirmed.

Joe Tidy, a cyber journalist for the BBC, claimed that it was doubtful to be a scam.

However, he added, “In my experience, there is no basis to believe they are telling the truth.” These criminal organizations are motivated by money and notoriety.  Inversely, falsifying stolen data doesn’t help them.

The cyber gang would likely be anticipating the university would pay up, according to Brett Callow, a threat researcher for the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft.

At least to a third party, the data “likely doesn’t have nowhere near the value Rhysida is placing on it,” he added.

“They will be hoping the institution makes good on its promise to prevent the data from being posted on the dark web and thereafter utilized to perpetrate identity theft by other criminals.”

As per the cybersecurity website Sentinel One, the Rhysida ransomware group was first discovered in May of this year.  Attacks have been undertaken against numerous organizations all across the world.

university of scotland (1)

Sentinel One claimed the gang presented itself as a “cybersecurity team” that was identifying vulnerabilities in its victims’ internet security by attacking their systems.

Along with its London location, UWS also operates campuses in Paisley, Ayr, Dumfries, and Blantyre.

When the problem occurred, a UWS representative told BBC Scotland that the university was collaborating with the Scottish government, the National Cyber Security Centre, and the police to find a solution.

According to the website of the National Cyber Security Centre, paying ransom requests is neither encouraged nor condoned.

“A probe is underway after a report of a cyber incident in Paisley,” a police spokesman said.  Police were notified on July 3rd, 2023, and investigations are still ongoing.

Similar cyberattacks have already targeted the University of Manchester, and the BBC was among the organizations hit by a huge intrusion last month.

A Ransomware Attack
BBC News

About The Author:

Yogesh Naager is a content marketer that specializes in the cybersecurity and B2B space.  Besides writing for the News4Hackers blog, he’s also written for brands including CollegeDunia, Utsav Fashion, and NASSCOM.  Naager entered the field of content in an unusual way.  He began his career as an insurance sales executive, where he developed an interest in simplifying difficult concepts.  He also combines this interest with a love of narrative, which makes him a good writer in the cybersecurity field.  In the bottom line, he frequently writes for Craw Security.

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