Recent increase in Ransomware attacks

Padlock

[11 April 2016]

We have been experiencing a high volume of incidents of ‘Ransomware.’ These are attacks that use malicious email attachments to encrypt files and folders and then demand payment to decrypt them. Whilst these attacks are not new, we are seeing increasing activity targeted at universities and other public institutions.

The disruption caused by these attacks has a serious impact on services to staff and students with the possibility of critical or valuable information being irretrievable. While every effort is made to block these attacks the number and sophistication means some will get through.

We must all therefore be vigilant to avoid such attacks. A few reminders:

  • Think carefully before opening any attachments or clicking on links in emails. Be especially wary of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel), PDF and .zip attachments. Attackers are preying on busy people who they hope may unthinkingly open attachments and click links.
  • If you suspect that you have opened an attachment or clicked on a link that may be linked to any form of ‘malware’ on a university managed computer or provided your University username and password, call the 24 hour IT Service Desk immediately on 0117 92 87870.
  • Be aware that emails may not be from the person in the sender field. Attackers can employ a method called ‘spoofing’ to pretend to be from any email address.
  • If someone sends you an email that looks suspicious, you should contact them by phone to confirm that it is a legitimate email before opening it.

For more information visit the Information Security Email Threats and Issues site.