(Reuters) — A global outbreak of ransomware has crippled servers belonging to the Florida Supreme Court and several universities in the United States and Europe, according to a Reuters analysis of ransom notes posted online to affected servers.
These organizations are among more than 3,800 victims of a fast-spreading digital extortion campaign that locked down thousands of servers in Europe over the weekend, according to figures from Ransomwhere, a crowdsourced platform that tracks digital extortion attempts and ransom payments online and whose figures are drawn from internet scans.
Ransomwhere did not name individual victims, but Reuters was able to identify some by looking up internet protocol address data linked to the affected servers via widely used internet scanning tools such as Shodan.
The extent of the disruption to the affected organizations, if any, was unclear.
A spokesman for the Florida Supreme Court told Reuters that the affected infrastructure had been used to administer other parts of Florida̵7;s court system and was separate from the main Supreme Court network.
“The Florida Supreme Court’s network and data are secure,” the spokesman said, adding that the integrity of the rest of the state court system was also unaffected.
A dozen universities contacted by Reuters, including the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Rice University in Houston and institutions of higher education in Hungary and Slovakia, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Reuters also contacted the hackers via an account advertised on their ransom notes but received only a demand for payment in return. They did not respond to further questions.
Ransomwhere said the cybercriminals appear to have extorted only $88,000, a modest haul by the standards of the multimillion-dollar ransoms regularly demanded by some hacking gangs.