Texas Tech Releases Lubbock IT Alert: WannaCry Ransomware

LUBBOCK, TX - The Texas Tech I.T. Division released a Lubbock IT Alert on Monday concerning the topic of ransomware.

Last week, the so-called WannaCry ransomware attack struck hospitals, companies and government offices around the world. 

The purpose of the ransomware was to seize control of computers and encrypt the data. The computer owners would be locked out of their own data until paying a ransom.

The attack was stopped from spreading prior to Saturday morning.  However, stopping the spread did nothing to help anyone whose computer was already infected.

Texas Tech I.T. said ransomware can be spread by “remote desktop protocol; exploitation of a critical Windows vulnerability; or phishing email messages.”

The full alert from Texas Tech I.T. is posted below.

As reported in the media this weekend, the TTU IT Division alerts the Lubbock community of a widespread, malicious ransomware campaign targeting numerous organizations and at least 74 countries, including the United States. Once installed, ransomware software will encrypt and lock your computer and data until a fee is paid to the cybercriminal.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the software can run in as many as 27 different languages. Attackers use several methods to distribute this malicious software: remote desktop protocol; exploitation of a critical Windows vulnerability; or phishing email messages. Note that the phishing messages may come from the compromised account of somebody the recipient knows, and may contain an unexpected or unknown attachment.

A patch for the Windows vulnerability has been available since March 14, 2017 and can be obtained through Windows Update.Please note that this patch only prevents spreading this malicious software, and does not immunize your system against infection.

The TTU IT Division recommends the following steps to protect yourself from this attack:

  • Do not click on links or open attachments contained within an email unless you are certain of the sender’s identity and expecting the information;
  • Patch and update all Windows systems with all available security patches through Windows Update;
  • Regularly update application software and mobile apps and enable automatic updating when possible;
  • Avoid downloading software or files from untrusted sources; and
  • Install, enable, and regularly update anti-malware/anti-virus software on your computers and devices.

We encourage you to be vigilant in practicing cybersecurity and invite you to learn more cybersecurity tips online at cybersecurity.ttu.edu. Additional information about this phishing scheme is available online at us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA17-132A. For more information or questions, please contact your local IT expert or an area IT consultant. Some area IT consultants are listed at cybersecurity.ttu.edu under “Additional Resources.”

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