Security Alert: Ransomware Cyberattack

Since last Friday, a cyberattack has spread to hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries. The self-replicating ransomware locks users out of their computers and encrypts their data—making it unreadable nonsense--unless a ransom is paid.

The malware, called WannaCry (and also WCry and Wana Decryptor), comes as an attachment initially sent by email.  Once a user clicks on the attachment, the malware infects the computer and then seeks out any other networked computers, thereby spreading the malware like wildfire.  It’s already shut down Britain’s National Health System, Spain’s Telefonica, and some 4,000 academic institutions in China, among many other victims. 

What you should know:

First and foremost, never open email attachments from people you don’t know or if unexpected.  When in doubt, forward suspicious messages to [email protected]  

You should also know that this current ransomware only affects Windows computers, but there are other strains of ransomware that target Macs as well as Android phones and other devices. The advice below on patching is just as relevant to Mac, iPhone and Android owners as PC owners.

What you should do:

 First, we want to reassure you that the City’s computers are carefully maintained and patched regularly; there is nothing for you do to with City computers. 

But what about your personal devices? The best protection against the WannaCry ransomware is to patch everything, as soon as possible. This includes your computer’s operating system and your apps—including your browser.  Also make sure you have an antivirus solution that updates automatically and scans your computer regularly. 

For those running Windows 8 or Windows XP, your time is up. Upgrade Windows 8 to Windows 10, if possible.  Otherwise, replace your device with one that runs Windows 10 or risk losing your data or identity as time goes by. As the New York Times reports, “A computer running XP today is a castle with no moat, portcullis raised, doors flung open, greeting the ravaging hoards with wine spritzers and jam.” It will only get worse. Microsoft stopped supporting XP in 2014.

If you have further questions or concerns, contact the Service Desk via phone, chat or email.





Published May 15, 2017



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