As seen in recent headlines, institutionally targeted ransomware attacks are on the rise. The initial entry for these attackers seem to use many of the same techniques that we have seen in the past so it is becoming very important, as frequent computer users, to keep our guard up. This is particularly important for faculty, staff and researchers who may have shared access to large amounts of storage (such as department shares and stashes).

We encourage that you:

  • Do not share the same password between your critical computer accounts and other online services.
  • Be wary of email attachments – especially ones that are unexpected, even from people you may know.
  • Verify email senders if you are unsure if the mail is legitimate. Use a previously known address to contact the sender.
  • Avoid clicking on links in emails that lead you to authenticate with your password. (We recommend separately logging into the service and finding the resource.) Phishing sites can look like the real site they are impersonating.
  • If it looks like phishing spam, let us know.
  • Avoid downloading/installing software from questionable sources.
  • Avoid installing browser extensions/plugins without vetting the source.
  • Backup any data that is locally stored on your computer. If ransomware hits you locally, any un-backed up data will be affected. Keep your backup drives disconnected until you need them (or the ransomware will encrypt your backup as well).
  • If you are a Tier 3 user, make sure that you have some form of antivirus enabled (and a local firewall if available).

If you suspect anything, let us know and we can take a look at it.