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Not Going to Pay

A Dutch research funding agency beset by a ransomware attack has rejected paying the hackers, according to Science. It adds that the attack has hobbled the agency's grant application and review processes.

The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), is the main Dutch funding agency and has a nearly €1 billion budget (US$1.2 billion), Science notes. Earlier this month, NWO disclosed that it had been hacked and was unable to access applications running on its network, including email. It also said that although grant applications use a separate server that server would be shut down as a safety measure.

Science reports that NWO declined to pay ransom to the attackers, who then revealed personnel files on the dark web. "On fundamental grounds, NWO, as part of the Dutch governmental institutions, isn't willing to pay ransom," NWO says in a statement. "Although NWO highly regrets the unfortunate situation of sensitive personnel documents being spread … NWO will not alter its position."

Science adds that other research funding agencies like UK Research and Innovation and universities including the University of Amsterdam and Maastricht University have also been targeted by ransomware attacks.