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IT Services Security Announcement (WannaCry) for May 18th, 2017

With the ransomware, WannaCry, making headlines recently, we wanted to provide an update regarding our security posture and steps you can take to protect against this type of threat.  The malware is typically packed into email attachments or links leading to a malicious file.  The most common form we detected comes via PDF or zipped files. The email may contain instructions to open the attachment or click a link to download a file. ITS and IT Security Services are diligently working to detect and prevent related attacks and infections. Even with layers upon layers of technical controls, all it can take is one user, one email, and one click.  Always verify the sender is a trusted and known source. Take a moment to pause and consider if clicking the link presented or the file received should be trusted.

What is the WannaCry malware? A worm that has the capability to spread on its own through the local area network/file shares from one infected system to the next. It mainly targets Windows systems, but ransomware can be ported to Linux and macOS.

What does it do? After infection, the malware encrypts files on all systems it was able to spread and asks the users to pay a ransom of reportedly $300 to decrypt the files. Currently, there is no evidence that even paying the ransom will result in successfully decrypted files. There isn’t a known way to decrypt the affected files.

Why is this important to me? A malware infection can be classified as unauthorized access to systems and data. It can expose what data is stored on the infected system or file share to the attackers and leave them useless until the ransom is paid. Unauthorized access is a violation of different government and industry regulations like FERPA, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. The penalties can include disciplinary, civil, and even criminal actions. The cost of investigating an incident starts upward of $8,000 for the University.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Please exercise caution, stop, think, then click if you have to.
  • When in doubt you have the options to throw the message out or report it to TAC so we can analyze it for you.
  • Make sure that you save your most important work related files to the designated network/file shares. ITS centrally manages backup and recovery of these shares.  

Tips for protecting against ransomware at home:

  • Ensure anti-virus software is up-to-date.
  • Implement a data back-up and recovery plan for your data.
  • Scrutinize links contained in emails, and do not open attachments included in unsolicited emails.
  • Only download software—especially free software—from sites you know and trust.
  • Enable automated updates for your operating system and Web browser.

For additional information visit:

-Nathan Wallace
Ferris State University
Information Technology Services
Technology Assistance Center


For technical support, contact Technology Assistance Center
231-591-4822 or toll free at 877-779-4822
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year

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