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Cybersecurity Awareness Alert: ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software used by criminals to encrypt your files, making them unusable and forcing you to pay a ransom to get them back. It is becoming an increasingly popular tool to extort money from individuals and organizations.

Recently there have been several high profile cases at hospitals that impacted patient care and hospital operations. Computers at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center were down for a week as the hospital worked to recover from a ransomware attack. The hospital paid the hackers $17,000 in ransom, but the far greater cost in lost revenue has been estimated at $533,911. Kentucky Methodist Hospital, Chino Valley Medical Center, and Desert Valley Hospital had to shut down and restore their systems from backups. A local hospital, Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, was attacked last week. Their IT team avoided paying a ransom but had to work very hard to protect and restore systems without compromising patient or employee records.

Take steps to avoid a ransomware attack:

  • Install anti-virus software and keep it updated. Sophos Endpoint Protection is available for supported UC San Diego-owned devices.
  • Keep operating systems up-to-date and applications patched.
  • Back up important files to a secure location separate from your computer, like a password- accessible shared drive.
  • Be cautious of phishing e-mails asking you to open files, click on links, or install applications.

For questions about attack prevention or If you believe you are the victim of a malicious attack, contact security@ucsd.edu. To report suspicious e-mails, contact abuse@ucsd.edu.

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