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Ransomware Evolution
Posted by Michelle Behne on 15 May 2017 11:50 AM

Recent ransomware plaguing the UK along with countries around the world has people scrambling to understand and mitigate this complex and scary issue.

The WannaCry or Wanna ransomware attacks highlight the vulnerability of unpatched or unsupported software but it also underscores that phishing attacks delivering ransomware have evolved.  Ransomware has become a virus where email attachments from people you know or file sharing (think Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.) is a threat to anyone with access.  People opening email laced with malware can become victims or can victimize people they associate with. 

Ransomware is where cyber thieves make easy money by either locking you out of your computer or by encrypting your files then demanding ransom before you'll regain access to either.  Ransomware is:

  • Often delivered by phishing emails with malicious attachments, including images, or spoofed links, or by dodgy websites.
  • Everyone is targeted -  all businesses types and sizes and individuals
  • Shared files, like Google Drive, Dropbox and other shared drives, are at risk.  If someone accidentally clicks on a phishing email or a bad link ransomware can lock out all users.

Ransomware has evolved.  WannaCry or Wanna infects unpatched or unsupported software then propagates as a virus to other people with unpatched or unsupported software through file sharing clouds or attachments.  Look for future ransomware to mimic this type of behavior.

How to protect against ransomware? 

  • Ensure your systems, personal and professional, have up to date software and browsers.
  • Ensure you have up to date antivirus apps on personal and professional systems, this includes mobile devices.
  • Replace unsupported software.
  • Never open attachments or email from people you don’t know.
  • Scrutinize email from people you know especially if it has an attachment you’re not expecting.
  • Set security settings on email systems – Outlook can allow preview mode but prevents auto download of images.

What to do if confronted with ransomware:

  1. Stop all activity on your computer
  2. Disconnect your computer from internet or WiFi
  3. Immediately contact your designated IT staff for assistance

How to protect your personal life:

  1. Regularly back-up all personal files – documents, pictures, etc.
  2. Install good antivirus, firewall and antimalware on personal computers, smartphones & tablets.
  3. Keep all software up to date by turning on auto updates.
  4. Use secure websites when doing transactions (check for the "S" in https)
  5. Scrutinize emails - don't click on "phishy" links or unusual attachments
  6. Don't use public WiFi for any transactions (email, shopping, etc.)

Remember - protect yourself & others by staying cyber safe!

For more information check out the attached FBI flash notice about WannaCry ransomware.


US CERT - Ransomware Overview

FBI - Ransomware on the Rise - FBI & Partners working to combat this cyber threat

Kaspersky Lab / IDG - Taking on Ransomware White Paper

ZDNet / Kaspersky Lab - Ransomware is now the biggest cybersecurity threat

SANS - OUCH! August 2016 Newsletter

 170513 u fbi-dhs flash - indicators associated with wannacry ransomware (002).pdf (633.51 KB)
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