Protect yourself against Ransomware

Published March 1, 2021

by Orly Stein

Ransomware infects your devices, encrypting personal data and holding it ransom. Once infected, unless you’re willing to pay an exorbitant sum, you may never see your files again.

Ransomware is devastating, and becoming alarming common. That’s why it is crucial to learn how to prevent ransomware attacks and protect yourself before you are a target.

How does ransomware spread?

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Author

UBIT Student Ambassador Orly Stein.

Orly Stein (UB Student, Class of 2022) is an Information Technology and Management major from Long Island, NY. In the future, she hopes to get more experience with cyber security and hopefully pursue a career in the field. In her free time, Orly enjoys playing soccer, going to SoulCycle with her friends and snowboarding.

Ransomware is rarely individually targeted. Instead, attackers usually acquire a list of emails or websites and send phishing messages with malicious links or infected files. Some ransomware attacks also exploit operating system vulnerabilities.

Ransomware can also access your email and impersonate you to spread the malicious software to your contacts.

How can I stay safe?

What should I do if I've been infected with ransomware?

  1. Report it. Contact UB’s Information Security Office, or contact your distributed IT support, immediately.
  2. Isolate the infected system. Disconnect and turn off the infected devices, and take the connected network offline so technical experts can identify the attack, prevent reinfections, and stop it from spreading.
  3. Assume all personal information was compromised. Change any usernames and passwords for accounts you might have logged into from the infected machines.

Attacks in real life

Although it might seem far-fetched that criminals would hold your personal information ransom, ransomware attacks are frequent.

The most famous and devastating ransomware attack in history, WannaCry, attacked devices in 116 countries in 2017. It was designed so that, once someone affected a single device on the network by clicking a malicious link or files, it spread quickly and automatically to other devices on the same network.

In 2016, a ransomware attack called TeslaCrypt targeted files stored on local drives. TeslaCrypt made up 48% of ransomware attacks in 2016 and it was impossible to restore the files.

Stay safe

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month. Get more tips for keep yourself, your devices and your personal information safe on the UBIT website.