Protecting yourself from ransomware

Ransomware is a popular type of malware that prevents access to a computer, or its files, and requires a payment to remove the ransomware and release the files.

One widely-reported piece of ransomware called WannaCry hit 200,000 hospitals and other institutions in 150 countries in May 2017. WannaCry locked up digital data on infected hosts until a ransom was paid.

To protect yourself from ransomware, follow these three basic guidelines:

1. Keep your operating system up to date

If you are using an older version of Windows, consider upgrading to Windows 10. If you need to stay on your current operating system, make sure that you update patches as soon as they become available.

Microsoft has released an emergency patch for Windows XP, Vista, and 8, server 2003 and 2008. The patch is available from Microsoft.

2. Be careful of links in emails

If you don't know or trust the source of your email, be skeptical of links contained in that message. It is recommended to manually type a link into a new web browser tab rather than clicking links in suspicious messages.

3. Keep offline or remote backups of important information

Keeping important information in an offline or remote backup will allow you to access your files should you fall victim to a ransomware attack.

If you are not doing full backups of your computer, you can use services like U of I Box or Google Drive to back up your most important files.

Technology Services will continue to monitor potential threats to campus and provide updates as necessary.