by Christine Sherry
ICT Security have seen a new instance of a computer virus called ‘Ransomware’. If infected the virus will encrypt all of your files on all of your available drives. It will stop you being able to access to your files. The virus writers want you to give them money and in return they will decrypt your files allowing you access again.
What to Look Out For
Anti-virus programs find this virus very difficult to protect against because it is constantly changing in ways that are difficult to predict. Therefore you need to be on the look out for signs and symptoms that suggest either you, or one of your collagues who you share disk space with, could be infected.
- Has your machine popped up a message recently from the Metropolitan Police or other law enforcement organisations asking for money or asking you to click on a link?
- Do you have many unexplained entries in your browser history, each one randomly named?
- Have the names of some of your files changed to filenames beginning with ‘locked’? eg: ‘MeetingActions.docx’ becomes ‘locked5674MeetingActions’.
If any of the above has happened to you please call the Service Desk on 0207 594 9000 as soon as possible. They can help you get access to your files and will disinfect your computer. If you suspect infection then shut down your computer, this will prevent the virus from being able to encrypt more files.
How to Avoid Ransomware Viruses
There are steps you can take to protect yourself against this virus. In particular, the infection seems to spread via email attachments. You should never open an email attachment that you either don’t know what it is, or is unexpected. If in doubt speak to the sender of the email asking them to confirm the legitimacy of the attachment.
The virus also attacks out of date versions of Flash, Java, Adobe or Microsoft Operating System Patches. Most of these will be up to date or in the process of updating if you have a College machine. If you have out of date software on your personal machine then please update it immediately.