Global Ransomware Alert

University Systems has been monitoring the global ransomware attack that begun on Friday, May 12 and quickly spread to infect over 200,000 computers in 73 countries.  Ransomware is malicious software designed to encrypt the files on your computer and prevent you from accessing them.  The software attempts to extort a monetary ransom to restore access to your files; payment of the ransom does not guarantee that your files will be restored.

This new ransomware variant, known as “WannaCry”, is spreading through a vulnerability in Windows that was patched on March 14, 2017.  Details on this critical security update from Microsoft are available in the following Microsoft bulletin:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/ms17-010.aspx

Some reports indicate that this ransomware is also spreading through email.  If you receive an unexpected email that looks unusual, DO NOT OPEN IT. Instead, delete it immediately and report it to the UVic Computer Help Desk.  Some of the emails have had subject lines such as Copy_[with Random Numbers], Document_[with Random Numbers], Scan_[with Random Numbers], File_[with Random Numbers], and PDF_[with Random Numbers]. This is not an exhaustive list. Please be extra cautious and do not open any emails that seem suspicious or unfamiliar no matter what the subject line is.

To protect yourself against this and other forms of ransomware, University Systems strongly recommends the following protective measures:

  1. Keep your Operating System and other software up-to-date.  Updates from Microsoft and other software vendors routinely fix critical security vulnerabilities such as “WannaCry.”
  2. Use an antivirus or security endpoint protection software and regularly apply updates to this software.  Antivirus software with real-time protection is an effective way to prevent a malicious software infection.
  3. Regularly backup your files to an external device or service that is not always connected to your computer.  If you are infected with ransomware, these backups may be the only way to recover your information.
  4. Do not open unexpected emails or attachments from unknown senders.  These messages may contain malicious software that will infect your computer.  For more information on how to protect yourself against malicious emails or phishing scams, visit www.uvic.ca/phishing.

If you have any questions about this issue or recommendations, please contact the Computer Help Desk at or 250-721-7687.