University of Calgary pays C$20,000 ransom

University of Calgary pays C$20,000 ransom

The University of Calgary has become the latest institution to succumb to ransomware – a type of malware that encrypts unsuspecting users’ files until they pay a fee, usually in Bitcoin, for the decryption key.

According to the Calgary Herald, the university’s vice-president of finance and services, Linda Dalgetty, said officials agreed to pay the cyber criminals C$20,000 to regain control of critical systems after a May 28 attack affected more than 100 university computers.

“What happens is you pay the ransom and the bad guys physically provide the keys,” she said. “At this point, we do have some encrypted machines. We have not used any of the decryption keys.”

Ransomware on the rise

Ransomware is a huge problem right now. Infoblox’s DNS Threat Index for Q1 2016 reports a 3,500% increase in ransomware domains in Q1 2016 compared with Q4 2015, “propelling it to account for 60 percent of the entire malware category”, and Nyxbone, a site that analyzes ransomware, categorizes nearly 130 current ransomware variants.

How to prevent ransomware infection

Ransomware, like many other forms of malware, commonly spreads via exploit kits that rely on phishing attacks and drive-by downloads on compromised websites. What’s particularly worrying for corporations is the fact that a single careless mouse-click by any unsuspecting user is all it takes to render your whole system unusable.

Steps to take to help defend against ransomware attacks

  • Train your staff (people)
    Everyone in the organization needs to be aware of the risks of phishing and social engineering.
  • Keep all of your software up to date and back up your files (process)
    Most infections take advantage of known vulnerabilities. You need a solid patch management process to keep on top of updates. It’s also essential to back up your files so that you can recover your critical information if you do suffer an attack.

The easiest way to take all of these steps is to implement an ISMS (information security management system) that promotes a culture of security throughout your organization, and addresses people, processes, and technology.

As Linda Dalgetty commented: “we, like other organizations subjected to these attacks, learned that continued vigilance is important.”

Best-practice cyber risk management

The international standard ISO 27001 provides a risk-based approach to enterprise data security that can be applied across the organization and throughout the supply chain. As well as improving your cyber security, the external validation offered by ISO 27001 certification is likely to increase your organization’s business efficiency while providing a higher level of confidence to customers and stakeholders. It also enables you to meet legal, contractual, and regulatory data protection obligations.

IT Governance has been helping organizations of all sizes and locations implement ISO 27001 for well over a decade. Whatever you want to know, and whatever resources you need, we’re your single source for everything to do with ISO 27001 – from the Standard itself to books, documentation toolkits, training courses, consultancy, and software to help you implement an ISMS in your organization.

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