The Current

Ransomware threat attacks hundreds of Canadians

Often attacking through email, cyber thieves are racking millions of dollars with the rise of ransomware attacks.
Ransomware attacks rack in millions of dollars for thieves (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

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This week the University of Calgary announced it paid $20,000 to hackers after a "ransomware" attack left them locked out of their own computer network. 

Cyber criminals have been using ransom to blackmail hospitals, businesses, and even cities such as Detroit, Michigan.

Sharon McKeil is one of many Canadians whose private computers have been attacked recently. Last month, her 15-year-old dog rescue charity was in jeopardy after her computer was hacked and files held for ransom. 

McKeil shares her story on The Current, while the director of Ryerson University's Privacy & Cyber Crime Institute and a threat researcher at an international software security company provide context for the rise in ransomware attacks, offer strategies for protecting yourself against them, and discuss the ethics of public institutions yielding to hackers. 

The truth is almost all of us have things on our laptops, our phones, our computers, that are precious to us. Pictures of our kids' birthdays— things that are irreplaceable if we don't have backup copies.- Chester  Wisniewski , on the rise of ransomware attacks

  • Chester Wisniewski, threat researcher with Sophos Canada. 
  • Avner Levin,  director of Ryerson University's Privacy & Cyber Crime Institute.
  • Sharon McKeil is a cyberware victim. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Willow Smith, Marc Apollonio, Ines Colabrese