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SAFEGUARDING YOUR SECURITY AND PRIVACY AT WORK AND AT HOME NEWSLETTER FALL 2016 FALL 2016 SECURITY SMART 1 H ERE'S A NIGHTMARE situa- tion: Your computer is frozen, your data is inaccessible, and a hacker somewhere out in the ether is demanding you pay up or you'll never see your files again. That's what happens when a computer is infected with ransomware, a type of malicious software that, as the name suggests, effec- tively kidnaps files and holds them hos- tage for money. Cyber- security firm Symantec reports that over the past year, ransomware has reached "a new level of maturity and menace," and the average ransom demand is now $679, up from $294 at the end of 2015. Signs your device may be infected with ransomware: n You get a "splash screen" upon startup that prevents you from using the computer and provides instruc- tions on how to pay the ransom to restore access. n You can't open individual files. n You notice odd or missing file exten- sions. Those letters after the dot at the end of a file name (.doc, .exe, .pdf and .jpeg) are the file extension. They let your computer know what type of file it needs to read. Files encrypted by ransomware often have extensions like .crypted or .cryptor or are missing file extensions altogether. In all of these instances, the "finder" tool will display a blank icon for the file type. n You've received instructions for paying the ransom. The hackers responsible will have left a file with pay- ment instructions. Their ultimate goal is to get paid, so the file should be somewhat easy to find. Look for (but do not open) .txt or .html files that begin with an under- score followed by clear language in all caps, such as "_OPEN ME" or "_YOUR FILES HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED." If you're hit with ransomware: n Try not to panic. It's natural to freak out when important files go missing or are inaccessible, especially when an unauthorized party is claiming to have the power to destroy them. n Disconnect from the Internet. n Don't open the instruction files, and don't pay. Paying extortion fees only invites more extortion. Payment should be a final, desperate action and only when experts say its your best option. n Contact your employer's IT or secu- What to Do if Your Files Are Kidnapped rity department immediately. They can work with experts to unlock the files and look for the source of the attack. Protect yourself: n Practice safe web browsing and email habits. Don't click on links inside emails, and avoid suspicious websites. n Enable your pop-up blocker. Pop-ups are a popular way to get victims to click on an infected link. n Be suspicious of email from unknown senders, and never click on a link or open or download an attachment unless you're sure you know what it is. n Be especially wary of unexpected email from package delivery or postal services, pop-ups saying you have a vi- rus, email from government agencies (the FBI's name has been used in ransomware scams) and dispute notifications. n Keep your software patches and virus protection up to date. n Back up your files frequently so you won't lose everything if your computer is compromised. If you have been a victim of ran- somware, or any other internet scam, file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at For more information on staying safe online here at BSU or at home, contact

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