Articles & Videos

Information Security awareness is important all year round. Stay informed with tips and topics produced by UCOP staff, throughout the year. Also see our National Cyber Security Awareness Month page for additional articles, posters and blog entries.


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Special Feature:
Ransomware - A Spooky Attack That Can Take Over Your Computer

Written by Audrie Ramirez, Information Security Intern. Published October 2016.

Ransomware is a type of malware that denies victims access to their data and/or devices. It is increasingly being used by cybercriminals for financial gain. Once a personal device is infected with ransomware, one of the following can happen (1) The victim is denied of access to their device and notified with a demand to pay ransom (2) Files become encrypted and the victim will be asked to pay ransom for the key to recover their files.

Ransomware is typically spread through e-mail attachments or malicious websites. Victims not familiar with ransomware may be deceived by the request portrayed as a warning from government or police officials. Payment of the ransom does not necessarily mean the cybercriminals will grant access back to the device or encrypted files. As an example, in 2014, eighteen computers at UC were impacted by the “Police Department University of California” ransomware, which was specifically targeted to the UC community:

Screenshot: Ransomware scam pretending to be a security alert from UC Police.
(Screenshot of ransomware scam masquerading as an alert from UC Police)

While you cannot predict becoming a victim of ransomware, there are ways to prevent falling victim by adopting the following habits:

  1. Be wary of e-mail messages and attachments from unfamiliar/unknown senders.
  2. Back up data regularly.
    This will allow for the data to be recovered should ransomware encrypt critical data.
  3. Keep your anti-virus software up to date.
  4. Ensure that your system software is up to date and patched.

When ransomware presents itself on a UC device, file a “Report An Incident” form immediately.