Office of Information Technology for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Office of Information Technology for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

What is Ransomware?

Definition: malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

Types of Ransomware:

  1. Encrypting ransomware, which incorporates advanced encryption algorithms. It’s designed to block system files and demand payment to provide the victim with the key that can decrypt the blocked content. Examples include CryptoLocker, Locky, CrytpoWall and more.
  2. Locker ransomware, which locks the victim out of the operating system, making it impossible to access the desktop and any apps or files. The files are not encrypted in this case, but the attackers still ask for a ransom to unlock the infected computer. Examples include the police-themed ransomware or Winlocker.

Some items to check if you want to keep your system safe:

  • Do not store important data only on your PC
    • Have backups of your data stored externally on an encrypted storage device.
  • Your operating system and the software you use is up to date, including the latest security updates.
  • Turn off macros in the Microsoft Office suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
  • You have removed the following plugins from my browsers: Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java and Silverlight. If you absolutely have to use them, set the Internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) to ask you if I want to activate these plugins when needed.
  • You have adjusted your browsers’ security and privacy settings for increased protection.
  • You have removed outdated plugins and add-ons from my browsers. Make sure to only kept the ones you use on a daily basis and keep them updated to the latest version.
  • Use an ad blocker to avoid the threat of potentially malicious ads.
  • Never open spam emails or emails from unknown senders.
  • Never download attachments from spam emails or suspicious emails.
  • Never click links in spam emails or suspicious emails.
  • Use a reliable antivirus product that includes an automatic update module and a real-time scanner.

Ransomware code is constantly being re-written to get around every security measure put in place. These are good computer use habits to practice at home as well as in the office.

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