Texas Tech University

Updated Recommendations to Protect Against Ransomware Attacks

With the recent ransomware attacks reported across the globe, the TTU IT Division is reaching out to the Lubbock community again to provide updated suggestions for protecting your information and devices. When infected with ransomware, data stored on your computer will be encrypted, and you will be prompted to pay a ransom to regain access to your data. In order to protect systems and data from becoming infected with ransomware, we provide prevention steps and data backup provisions. Should your system become infected, a recent backup will be important. The following suggestions and tools can be used at home and work environments to ensure that you are protected on every computer you use.

Preventing a ransomware infection: 

  • Ensure you have an anti-virus/anti-malware software package, installed, enabled, and automatically updated.
  • Confirm that all critical operating system updates are installed and automatic updates are enabled. Updates will frequently include patches for newly discovered security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by ransomware attacks.
  • Keep all third-party software on your computer updated, as these updates will often patch vulnerabilities that ransomware can exploit.
  • Stay vigilant and cautious when receiving emails with attachments, especially when unexpected or from untrusted senders, which may prompt you to enable macros or execute code that launches the ransomware attack.
  • Do not visit untrusted websites or follow links provided by unknown or untrusted sources.
  • Ensure you utilize strong and unique passwords for accounts, and do not share them.
  • Enable passcodes, PINs, or touch identification on mobile devices.

Backing up your important data is the most effective way to combat ransomware: Even when ransomware is removed with utilities, some portions of the ransomware may reside with your compromised data on the system. The best method to recover from ransomware is to reformat your system, reinstall your operating system and applications, and restore your data from a clean backup.

  • Utilize secure commercial or consumer cloud storage services to automatically sync a backup of your data.
  • For business data, utilize centralized storage solutions offered by your organization, as these systems are typically backed up nightly and can be restored from backups.
  • Utilize removable media for backups, such as USB hard drives or USB flash/thumb drives.
    • Ensure that you remove the device when not in use, so ransomware cannot encrypt that data if your system gets infected.
    • Maintain multiple copies of your important data in a secure location.
    • Keep at least one copy of your data at a safe, offsite location.

Note: If your computer becomes infected with ransomware, immediately disconnect from the Internet to prevent it from spreading. Once you have disconnected your device, contact your local IT expert or an area IT consultant for technical assistance. Some area IT consultants are listed at http://cybersecurity.ttu.edu under “Additional Resources.”

Contact

Cybersecurity Practices Initiative: Lubbock