Beware of ransomware attacks

UT Health San Antonio,

You may have heard in recent weeks about an increase in a type of cybercrime known as a ransomware attack. Colonial Pipeline recently paid hackers a $4.4M ransom while just last week the largest meat processing company in the world was forced to shut facilities due to an attack. It took Scripps Health a full month to get their electronic medical record (EMR) back online after falling victim to an attack on May 1. NYC’s mass transit, The Villages Hospital and numerous municipal utilities have also been successfully attacked in recent months. These events are increasing in both frequency and their ability to catastrophically disrupt.

UT Health San Antonio’s IT infrastructure and operations teams are well-equipped to prevent, detect, isolate, quarantine and/or rapidly respond to a ransomware attack. Automated system and data backups continuously occur if ever there was a need to restore. Even so, each of you is an ally in safeguarding against these types of attacks by adhering to the following:

  • Back up your data. Data, images and configurations for servers in labs, for example, should be regularly backed up and stored offline. If the systems you use are being delivered from the institution’s data center, these backups are automatically completed.
  • Update and patch. Keep operating system, firmware and applications up to date. This is especially critical for “niche” systems that you manage locally or is attached to an instrument or external data store.
  • Passwords. Maintain a strong password or passphrase, never disclose them and avoid using the same for multiple accounts (Ex: here at work, online banking and social media sites).
  • If in doubt…don’t. Be extremely cautious of suspicious-looking emails, attachments and links. If you’re just not sure whether it’s safe to click or open…don’t.

Please contact Information Security at infosec@uthscsa.edu and 210-567-0707 with any questions about how to further protect yourself from cybercriminals and immediately report suspicious activity or messages.

Thanks for your attention to this very urgent matter,

Yeman Collier, Chief Information Officer



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