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Regis University Hosts Cyber Summit After Ransomware Attack

DENVER (CBS4) - Denver's Regis University acknowledges it paid a ransom to get its computer system back up and running. It was hit in what's believed to be an attack from outside the United States last summer.

What Regis learned from this lesson, it is now giving back.

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Just as students were moving in for the school year in August the Regis computer system was hit by a crippling ransomware attack.

At the time one student told CBS4, "It's crazy we're a small university and they kind of come for us."

With the backup data gone it was faced with no good choices. The University paid the undisclosed ransom.

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Shari Plantz-Masters, the Dean of the College of Computer and Information sciences told CBS4's Rick Sallinger it hurt to pay up.

"You have to ask yourself 'what is going to get yourself back up and operational?' How long is it going to take to recover?"

Now some 160 people representing companies, the government and academic institutions took part learning and sharing how to deal with such attacks in a cyber summit on Tuesday.

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Plantz-Masters pointed out, "The criminals already have their community on the dark web and we have to do the same thing to protect our environment and community."

For its part, the university is combining its business and computer science programs so students on each side can learn about cyber issues. Regis was not alone in being hit.

Colorado Department of Transportation computers were also hit with a ransomware attack last year, but the agency refused to pay. It had its backup files and was able to restore them.

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Two Iranian men were indicted last year for the attack. They remain at large.

Deborah Blyth is the State of Colorado's Chief Information Security Officer. She's hopeful the suspects are caught.

"I think that at some point they will probably go on a vacation to a country that's friendly to U.S. extradition and that's when they will be caught."

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