University College London (UCL) announced yesterday evening that they had been hit by a major ransomware attack, forcing the university to block access to shared devices.

UCL’s Information Services Division (ISD) initially explained that they had prevented access to the N: and S: drives as a precaution. They later added that the attack may have involved a zero-day threat since the ransomware was able to evade the university’s existing security controls.

The university believes the attackers gained access through a phishing email opened around lunchtime yesterday, resulting in a malware payload alert and encrypted files on local drives and network shared drives.

ISD explained:

“We take snapshot backups of all our shared drives and this should protect most data even if it has been encrypted by the malware. Once we are confident the infections have been contained, then we will restore the most recent backup of the file. Backups are taken every hour.”

Phishing attacks are difficult to prevent due in part to the cunning and devious methods used by attackers. User education in this instance is incredibly important to focus on: teach your employees what to look out for and how to practice good email security practices.

The best approach for preventing a ransomware attack is to harden the user workstation environment, but as with any System Hardening program, a balance must be found between strong security and operational ease of use.



Read this article on Info Security Magazine






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