UCL hit by ransomware attack

On Wednesday last week, a ransomware attack hit the University College London (UCL). The university released a statement shortly after the attack: “Currently it appears that the initial attack was through a phishing email although this needs to be confirmed. It appears the phishing email was opened by some users around lunchtime today. The malware payload then encrypted files on local drives and network shared drives”.

To contain the infection, the IT team decided to block access to some shared drives before continuing the investigation.

The attack spread from an infected website

In an update to the statement, issued the following day, the security team said that their “current hypothesis is that the infection started as a result of UCL users visiting a website that had been compromised. Clicking on a popup or even just visiting a compromised site may have then introduced the malware to their device. The website could be one that they use regularly”.

One of the fastest-growing forms of cyber attack

Ransomware attacks prevent organisations from accessing their system and data, and from doing business. They consistently cause damages such as loss of money, reputation, business and more. The recent WannyCry ransomware attack left many organisations all over the world on their knees for many hours, if not days.

Although many companies think the right response is to pay the ransom, this strategy doesn’t guarantee the recovery of all encrypted data. Furthermore, paying ransoms funds cyber criminals to continue their malicious activities.

Invest in security solutions

Prevention is better than cure. With strong and up-to-date security measures, companies can dramatically reduce the risk of ransomware infection. Here is a list of possible security solutions:

  • Conduct a Cyber Health Check to assess the cyber risk exposure of your company and create an ad-hoc plan to manage the risk.
  • Implement an ISO 27001-compliant ISMS, recognised as the most comprehensive solution to achieving an enhanced cyber security posture.
  • Test your security defences with penetration tests to identify any unknown weaknesses.

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