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Imminent Threats Announced by DHS, FBI

GRAPHIC: Threatening message from cybercriminal after a ransomware attack.

The FBI and US Homeland Security are warning hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities of an
imminent cybercrime threat involving ransomware. Ransomware is a technique used to target computers with malicious software that encrypts all of the computer’s files. A payment is then demanded to decrypt the files. Recently, attackers have taken to publicly releasing sensitive or embarrassing information belonging to targets that don’t pay. Ransomware attacks have very real consequences: A hospital chain was severely impacted this summer and a university in California state system paid over $1 million to recover its data.

Ransomware attacks often start with email phishing, so it is crucial that faculty and staff be alert for suspicious messages, and to think before you click. UFIT systems, including GatorCloud, implement backup plans to help protect data in case of attack. Current versions of antivirus software are also helpful in detecting ransomware, but criminals can create special versions of ransomware that can evade antivirus protection.

How to spot phishing is included in the Protecting UF: Information Security Awareness training. If your computer becomes very slow or threatening messages appear on your screen, disconnect your computer from the network (either disconnect the wire or disable Wi-Fi) and immediately contact your college/department ISM, the UF Computing Help Desk, or the UF Information Security Office.