Beware of ransomware attacks

Cybercrimes are an ever-present risk and an increase in ransomware attacks has very recently materialized. While our technical defenses block nearly 50 million nefarious messages every month, your awareness of safe computing practices is absolutely essential. Please consider the tips below to keep you and your family cyber-secure.

Practice Email Security

Scammers often employ cleverly crafted e-mails to steal information or exploit your computer. These “phishing” messages attempt to deceive you into believing the message is from a legitimate source (such as the UT Health Help Desk or Email Administrators.) The messages are often highly sophisticated, and closely mimic our own standard communication templates and web sites. They may even tailor the content to your specific job responsibility or appear to come from a trusted colleague.

  • Unsolicited requests for personal information are a clear danger sign. Consider all email requests for your password, username, and account or other personal information highly suspicious.
  • Be wary of any email offering service upgrades, a storage increase, or requesting you to validate user information. This is especially important if you check email on a smartphone or tablet as the formatting on mobile devices often makes it more difficult to visually determine the legitimacy of the message.
  • Key indicators of phishing messages include a mismatched sender name, email address, or other contact information. The message will urge you to click a link or reply within a short timeframe before terminating or deleting your account or data and often includes poor grammar or misspellings.

Protect Yourself From Ransomware

The most common security attacks are known as Ransomware; they are PC viruses that automatically render the contents of a computer inaccessible and require a ransom payment to restore access. These infections can originate in an email attachment or compromised web site and can leverage the PC’s network connection to encrypt other computers and servers within mere minutes.

  • Be especially careful of any links embedded within the message. On a laptop or desktop hovering the mouse cursor over the link reveals the true destination. On most smartphones and tablets, pressing and holding the link for several seconds causes the information box to pop up revealing the true destination.
  • Do not open any unexpected email attachments that look unfamiliar or contain suspicious content. Be extremely suspicious of all *.zip and Microsoft Office macro files as these file types are the most common methods of ransomware attacks.

If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a message, please contact the Service Desk at 210-567-7777 to validate the source and content of the message. As well, please don’t hesitate to contact Information Security at if you have any questions about how you can further protect yourself from cybercriminals.

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