Carleton University’s IT network was hacked on Nov. 29 using ransomware. Ransomware holds files hostage, threatening to corrupt them if a ransom is not paid.

Carleton said they did not pay the ransom, unlike the University of Calgary (U of C), who paid $20,000 to hackers in June so that no one would lose access to research. Ransomware attacks, and paying these ransoms, are becoming more common worldwide, according to a press release from U of C.

But paying hackers encourages other hackers to try to get money from universities by holding their information hostage.

This trend is dangerous, because if hackers believe they will be paid to release information, hackers may try to gain access to larger institutions like health facilities and government websites. This exposes a larger threat of classified information being leaked and therefore putting people at risk.

In light of the recent hacks, the University of Toronto (U of T) is now taking preemptive measures to keep out hackers. It is launching services on their campus to help students, faculty, and staff to identify security risks. A new website might also be set up by U of T to combat the recent security threats, according to an article in The Varsity.

The actions of Carleton and U of T when faced with online hackers show that universities do not have to give in to keep information safe. This should be seen as an example for other Canadian universities.