LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — A Los Angeles community college has paid a $28,000 ransom after a hacker took student data hostage.

About 1,800 Los Angeles Valley College teachers and staff were locked out of their computers last week, leaving the data of 20,000 students compromised. College administrators elected to pay the $28,000 ransom in bitcoins rather than leave students without their data.

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Officials say it was ultimately cheaper to pay the ransom than to remove the unidentified ransomware virus.

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Computer systems throughout the Valley Glen campus suffered a data breach on Dec. 30 and administrators decided to pay the hackers last week.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is investigating the cyber-attack.

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