Information Technology Services
Information Technology Services

The following email was sent to Queen's University faculty and staff on June 15, 2016 on behalf of Denise Ernst, Information Security Officer, Office of the CIO and Information Technology Services.

Important information about ransomware and cybersecurity

The University of Calgary is in the process of recovering from a significant, widespread malicious software (malware) attack that involved ‘ransomware’. The attack resulted in many computers being infected along with widespread IT service disruptions.  This has been very impactful on the user community at Calgary.

Information Technology Services (ITS) has been closely monitoring the situation since the incident began and has prepared important information to make our user community aware of important cybersecurity issues and how everyone can work together to help Queen’s University protect itself.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware designed to lock files on your computer and then entice you to pay a ransom in order to gain back access to these files. Even if a ransom is paid, it does not ensure your files will be released. Often the attackers are not looking to take your files, nor are they looking for your personal information. In these cases, the attackers want a ransom.

Is Queen’s University at risk?

While Queen’s works diligently to prevent these kind of attacks from happening, there is no way to guarantee that the university will not be affected by this kind of attack in the future.

Victims of cybersecurity threats around the world are wide and varied, from single individuals to entire institutions and government departments. Queen’s has implemented measures to help protect our users from malicious attacks; however, IT security at Queen’s remains everyone’s responsibility.

What can you do?

Most cybersecurity threats are delivered to victims in malicious emails (e.g., phishing email), websites, or by exploiting a vulnerability in a computer’s software or hardware.

By following these five guidelines you can help to reduce the risk of cyber threats, including ransomware:

  • Keep your operating system, applications, and antivirus software up-to-date with the latest patches.
  • Run routine antivirus scans and promptly remove viruses and infected files.
  • Be careful about what you are clicking on! Don’t open unexpected emails, attachments, or web links.
  • Store your files on one of Queen’s University’s secure file storage services.
  • Back up your files regularly in case they need to be recovered from an earlier version. Saving your files on OneDrive or in your Windows File Service drive ensures your files are protected if your computer is affected.

If you suspect that your computer may be infected with ransomware or any other type of malware, please contact the IT Support Centre immediately by calling 613.533.6666 or by filling in the Online Help Form.

Education is key!

To learn more on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of a cyberattack, and putting and university data at risk, we encourage you to:

Protecting yourself from Ransomware

  • Hackers infected the University of Calgary computer system on June 1, 2016, holding email access hostage for a week until a $20,000 ransom was paid.