Beware Ransomware! Here’s what you need to know

RansomwareRansomware is a malicious software programme that gains illegal and ill-intentioned access to computer. The malware locks down the computer, and the information held hostage.

An example of a ransomware programme is WannaCry, and it recently hit the headlines by infecting thousands of computers worldwide, including New Zealand. The computer locks down making the information inaccessible to the user. Approximately $300 in Bitcoin ($NZD430) is then demanded to resume access.

Once a single computer in a network infects with WannaCry, the programme looks for other vulnerable computers on the network and infects them too.

Our IT teams are at work continuously to ensure that our service delivery is secure. The following precautions are ways that you our customers are also able to take to protect yourselves against attack.

Beware email attachments

The majority of ransomware programmes gain access to your computer via email. It’s very important that you have some idea of the contents of any email attachments you are opening, or that you trust the sender. Never download attachments until you are sure it’s safe to do so. If it’s from a stranger delete the email or mark it as spam. Do NOT open the attachment.

Use strong passwords on everything

Avoid using the same password in multiple places, and choose passwords that are not easy to guess. Make them at least eight characters long and include a mix of capitals, numbers and alternative characters (e.g.. *&$). Change your passwords often.

Be careful of what you share on social media

There are companies that scan and collect the personal data you share on social media sites. Their sole purpose is to deliver malicious downloads to your devices. Keep your private information private and avoid using social media sites at work. When you share via a work network your organisation’s data and reputation is at risk.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots without VPN (secure) connection

Do not connect to a public Wi-Fi unless you do so through a VPN. A VPN will encrypt your communications to and from the internet so anyone who might be eavesdropping can not steal your information.

Do NOT click on popup windows that tell you your computer is infected with a virus

These popup windows masquerade as a warning and once clicked, install malware onto your computer. By clicking on them you are giving permission for them to do so.
If your system is infected and you receive a request to pay money to have the malware removed, get in touch with a specialist, not the perpetrators. Please don’t pay them to remove the malware they have installed, you will be perpetuating the practice.

Never download pirated or cracked software

This type of software is unauthorised and usually includes some type of malware. Installing illegitimate software onto your work computer puts both your computer and the organisation at risk.