Ransomware is a type of computer malware that attempts to extort money from computer users by limiting the functionality of users machines, encrypting data so that it cannot be read by the computer owner, or other methods that prevent the normal operation of computers, mobile devices, and tablets.
If activated, users will generally see warnings or pop-up messages indicating their machine or device has been infected, and will include demands for money in order to repair the damage.
It may also indicate to the user that illegal activities have occurred on the computer, such as the viewing of illegal pornography or pirating software and music. The threat tells the user that unless they want law enforcement to be involved, they should pay the requested fee (usually around $100).
These messages may include local and federal law enforcement logos and graphics such as the RCMP or FBI. These communications look very official and can be quite convincing to the average user.
Please do not be fooled by these attempts.
Law enforcement does not use these methods to catch individuals for the illegal usage of digital material.
Do not send any type of communication to the attacker nor send any money.
If you feel your computer has been infected, contact the Solutions Centre for assistance at 403-329-2490 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or a qualified local service technician.
What can I do?
There are many things you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
1. Always apply software updates to your computer. This includes Operating System (Microsoft, Apple, Linux), as well as third party applications (Flash, Java, Adobe Reader).
2. Do not visit websites that claim to host illegal material for free. These will generally install unwanted software on your computer which can be used for nefarious purposes.
3. Do not click suspicious links or advertisements on legitimate sites that may be offering services or materials that seems too good to be true.
4. Do not click on links from suspicious emails, even if they claim to be coming from a friend or trusted source. Your friend may have had their account compromised.
4. Regularly back up your data on an external source to prepare for the situation where your computer may no longer be functional.
U of L Communications and Public Relations Contact:
Communications and PR Officer (403) 382-7173