dailypeghamCALGARY (Web Desk) – A Canadian university had to pay hackers $20,000 to restore access to data they had turned into the digital equivalent of gibberish.

The computer system of University of Calgary were affected for 10 days while the IT team worked to remedy the issue. Ultimately, the university paid around $16,000 ($20,000 Canadian) to recover its data, with no guarantee that it was even possible to restore it, the BBC reported.

The malware caused emails and other files to become encrypted.

One expert warned that the payout would encourage further blackmail attempts. The move comes the same week Intel warned that ransomware infections were spreading at “an alarming rate”.

More than 120 separate strains exist, many of which are frequently updated, making it difficult for security experts to offer a solution.

“The university is now in the process of assessing and evaluating the decryption keys,” said university’s vice president Linda Dalgetty.

“The actual process of decryption is time-consuming and must be performed with care.

“It is important to note that decryption keys do not automatically restore all systems or guarantee the recovery of all data.”

She added that the local police force was investigating the matter.

The University of Calgary has said there was no indication that “any personal or other university data was released to the public”.