Ransomware attacks in Irish Higher Education Institutions
7 April 2021
In the past number of days, you may have seen reports in the news about ransomware attacks on Irish Higher Education institutions. These attacks are causing major disruption to teaching, learning and research, where IT systems and important data on these sites have become unavailable.
Ransomware is commonly spread via fraudulent emails, either as an infected attachment containing malware or a link to the scammer’s website. While Trinity has comprehensive anti-virus scanning systems in place for detecting viruses and infected emails, the current targeting of Irish Higher Education Institutions highlights that we must all remain vigilant and exercise caution particularly around opening attachments and clicking on links in suspicious emails.
Below we have answered six questions regarding ransomware, phishing and how to protect yourself against these types of cyber-attacks.
1. What is phishing?
Phishing is a form of online fraud. Scammers use phishing emails to trick you into giving away important information, such as your login details. They can then use these to access your own data, or data that you have access to, putting the entire University at risk.
Learn more at: https://www.tcd.ie/itservices/security/phishing.php
2. How can I identify a phishing email?
It is easy to be alarmed by a phishing email, they are designed to get us to act without question. They may appear to come from a legitimate business that you have previously dealt with or a colleague. Remember to stay cautious, always take your time and consider the validity of the email.
Learn more at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da9Cb6w3b58
3. What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware, where scammers aim to trick their targets into downloading malicious software on their computers in order to encrypt their files or lock them out of their devices. If you fall victim, the scammer demands you to pay a ransom in order to recover your files and/or regain access to your device.
Learn more at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAfO4Rg2In4
4. What should I do if I receive a phishing email?
Please report any email that you believe is phishing to the IT Service Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org / +353-1-896-2000) and delete it. Treat any email that asks for your username and password with extreme caution.
5. What should I do if I have fallen for a phishing scam?
If you think you have fallen prey to a phishing email, immediately:
- Change your password
- Report the incident to the IT Service Desk (email@example.com / +353-1-896-2000)
6. How can I protect my computer, my data and Trinity IT systems?
- Stay current on software security updates for your devices. To make sure you are up-to-date, you can run a manual installation today, instructions are available at https://www.tcd.ie/itservices/security/software-updates.php
- Make sure you have anti-virus software installed on your devices and ensure they are running up-to-date virus definitions.
- Backup your data, files and devices regularly – this will help you recover the latest version of any lost or damaged data should you fall victim to ransomware, see https://www.tcd.ie/itservices/security/data-backup-file-management.php
- Do not download or open files from unsolicited emails. If you receive an email with attachments you were not expecting, check with the sender before acting on the email.
- Remain vigilant and report any unusual activity to the IT Service Desk.