LA Valley College Ransomware Attack
Another Ransomware Attack
LA Valley College started the year off on a very sour note….Over the New Years Holiday, the college was crippled with a Ransomware attack. LA Valley College became the first major cyber victim of 2017, paying $28,000 in BitCoins to retrieve their school and student data. It’s really frustrating as an IT Solutions Provider to hear about victims of this type of cybercrime for many reasons. It’s sad to hear about a $28,000 robbery that could have been avoided in the first place. Its devastating that student data was compromised which may have included social security numbers, personal records and financial information. Intellectual property of instructors or the school may have been breached as well. Ultimately, the school paid the ransom in BitCoins to unlock their data.
Sadly, this entire scenario could have been avoided with one simple action – all they had to do was restore a successful backup. The hackers wouldn’t have made any money and the school would have experienced minimal down time during that restoration of data. Unfortunately, the school did not have a back up system in place. Such a devastating consequence…Any proficient IT Provider could have easily set up and managed a back up so that when this situation occurred, all they would have to do was restore the backup. We see this over and over again in our Tech Center, whether potential clients call in with a similar sob story, or if one of our clients calls in with a Ransomware warning appearing on their screen. It just kills me that this could have been avoided completely. Student data, student financial information, social security numbers, financial aid information and who knows what else was compromised due to this breach. This is simply maddening.
The origin of the Ransomware virus comes from a script that is uploaded when an unknowing computer user clicks on a link or an attachment. This can range from a .pdf, .doc, .xls, or .ppt file format or even a link to a Google Doc. Listed below are a few helpful tips to ward off the potentially devastating consequences of a Ransomware infection.
Don’t use old Office Programs – Upgrade to at least Office 2010 or newer. Using old Microsoft programs is a security breach and is the most prevalent way in which individuals can be susceptible to Ransomware infections.
Upgrade your System Operating System – Old Operating Systems will lack critical security updates and are no longer supported by Microsoft, which means hackers are going to write code to break into these systems more easily than the more secure and updated operating systems.
Think twice and be cautious – If you receive an attachment or email that you weren’t expecting from one of your contacts – Verify by contacting the sender. People have come to expect a phone call or an email to verify that that a message is authentic. Hackers are cloaking email addresses now. I receive at least a few bogus emails a week from my contacts. Luckily we have filters and firewalls that remove all content and attachments for us, yet the message text is still delivered. Another trick used is the masking of emails in which the sender name is not the actual sender.
Here is an example:
You receive an email from Bank of America Credit. You think oops, has someone stolen my credit card info?
Right Click your mouse on the email name and the details of the true address can be revealed. Most likely the real email address is something like: firstname.lastname@example.org
Slow Down – We are all guilty of moving quickly through emails while multitasking. The hackers are counting on this fact! So try to slow down and be more mindful about what you are clicking on since it could save you from some major headaches and $$$.
The team at Orange County Computer, Inc. wants to see a decrease in Ransomware infections. If you are unsure about an email you received, please call us and ask our opinion. We are happy to help. News recently revealed that with certain Ransomware Infections, victims are given an option to either pay thousands of dollars in BitCoins or infect 2 other people.The bottom line is this: keep a daily or weekly backup that can be restored in the event of any failure or breach. For more information about how to implement a reliable Backup Solution, or for a network security analysis, contact Orange County Computer at (949) 522-7709 or click here.