Dutch University set to recover more than twice the paid BTC ransom in 2019

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The Netherlands-based Maastricht University (UM) is set to recover nearly €500,000 worth of bitcoin (BTC) after police officers managed to solve the infamous ransomware attack in December 2019.

In 2019, a ransomware hack targeted the said university and froze all its research data, emails, and library resources. The hackers demanded €200,000 in BTC and the university decided to pay the said amount for fear of losing important research data.

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The Dutch Public Prosecution Service (DDPS) managed to track down one of the crypto wallets linked to the hack in Ukraine in 2020 and deposited funds into the account worth only €40,000 at the time. Over the next two years, DPPS managed to secure the contents of the account, which contained about a fifth of the stolen BTC.

The value of the ransom recovered by the authorities has reached €500,000, which is more than double the amount the university paid two and a half years ago, due to the rise in the price of the top cryptocurrency during the bull run in 2021.

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The university said in its official statement that even though the monetary value of the ransom recovered is high, it cannot undo the damage done by the hackers. In an official blog post the university said:

“The Netherlands Public Prosecution Service was able to confiscate approximately €500,000 worth of cryptocurrency that could be made available to UM. A good amount.”

The confiscated funds are presently with DPPS and legal proceedings have been initiated to transfer the funds to the University. The executive board of the university has decided to use the recovered funds to help students in financial need.

The seizure of crypto funds by the authorities highlights the importance of the decentralized and transparent public ledger system used by BTC and crypto in general. While critics often portray crypto as an opaque and anonymous system favored by criminals, research data indicates that less than 1% of existing crypto in circulation is associated with illegal activities.

Even stolen and ransomed crypto funds are often tracked and recovered. For example, the United States authorities managed to recover $2.3 million in crypto from the Colonial Pipeline ransom.