The University of Calgary was recently forced to pay a $20,000 ransom to regain access to their computer systems after they were hacked. UBC frequently faces cyber attacks given the large volume of information that is transferred over the course of even a single day, sometimes including ransomware necessitating precautions.
“These attacks often come in the form of email attachments, or links, that unsuspecting recipients open or click,” said Don Thompson, deputy chief information officer, in an information technology (IT) alert to faculty and staff. “I would like to request that everyone remains diligent as some of the fraudulent emails appear to come from official UBC sources.”
These emails often appear to be bank statements, income tax refund issues and random warnings from known sources. While UBC uses technology to block and dispose of such emails, newer version of malicious software have been found to exist, making it difficult to successfully detect and block all possible threats.
“It is here that caution must be exercised,” urged Thompson. He recommended vigilance amongst staff, faculty members and students, since UBC as a “research-intensive university faces a greater threat because [of the amount of online activity such as] clicking on an e-mail or opening a link or an attachment.”
He also emphasized that those who are suspicious of a certain email or link should contact the UBC IT help desk at 604-822-2008. Faculty and staff can also forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.