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Cybersecurity Alert: Reboot computers to protect against ransomware attack

May. 15, 2017, 10:37 AM

Hacker typing on a laptop

(iStock)

Last Friday, a global “ransomware” cyber attack was launched that has now reached computers in 150 countries, including the United States. The cyber attack continues to present an ongoing threat for computers and systems that have not yet been protected.

Vanderbilt needs your help to further protect its network and your files.

  1. Please reboot your office computer as soon as you can this morning. This will allow any computers we have tried to update to complete the update process.
  2. If you are responsible for managing your own computer, ensure that it is updated. You should search for and click Windows Update to install any recent updates.
  3. Back up your data so you can recover your system if it is infected.

To protect VUMC IT and VUIT systems, all members of the university community are urged never to click on links or download files in emails unless you know with certainty that they are intended for you.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users’ access to files on the computer until a ransom is paid to unlock it. The software spreads by “phishing,” luring unsuspecting users to click on infected email attachments and links in emails to launch the attack. Out-of-date systems are particularly vulnerable to ransomware.

Since Friday evening, VUIT, VUMC IT and Health IT have been installing a software update on centrally managed systems to protect against this cyber attack. However, office workstations, as well as laptops and home computers using Microsoft’s operating system software that have not been updated and restarted, continue to be vulnerable to attack.

When an email looks suspicious, please take a moment to:

  • Contact the VUIT Help Desk at (615) 343-9999 and follow their directions on reporting the suspicious email.
  • Contact the sender (if you know them) to verify whether they sent the message; otherwise, please contact the VUIT Help Desk.

What to do in the event of a cyber attack

If any Vanderbilt computer or system becomes compromised through a cyber attack, immediately disconnect the system from the network either by removing the network cable or by turning off the wireless connection. Notify the VUIT Help Desk at (615) 343-9999 and request that a high-priority incident be opened for VUIT Security Operations.