Ransomware and the email security needed to fight it


Media by Abhijit Srirangam

Student and Teachers use the RSDMO gmail accounts for emails within the district.

In lieu of recent events, Rockwood sent out an email to students and teachers warning them of the new ransomware entitled, “Wannacry”. The ransomware has been an international problem for a while and the virus could impact Rockwood emails.

The e-mail message usually has a link to a website or it contains an attachment that contains a malicious program,” said Rockwood Chief Information Officer Will Blaylock. “ When someone experiences a ransomware attack, malicious software encrypts a user’s data and holds it hostage until the user pays a ransom.  Usually this costs between $100 and $300 provided in bitcoin currency.”

Blaylock said that the virus infection is caused by the action of the end user (whoever is opening the email). The user ultimately clicks the link and the malware infects the software of the user.

This raises 2 important questions. What email security does Rockwood staff and students have? And How can we keep our emails safe from online viruses?

The good news is, Blaylock has confirmed that there has not been any reported “Wannacry” ransom events in the Rockwood district. Sadly, this may not always be the case.

I believe the security of our e-mail package is very good,” Blaylock said. “With that said, the end user must pay attention to what they are doing while accessing e-mail or browsing the Internet. Students must be cautious and skeptical about what they see in e-mail, online and around them.”

Blaylock recommends that students and teachers avoid internet viruses by using the following recommendations:

  • Keep electronic devices updated

Updates help the software company determine whether there is a security problem

involving the device. This is very important.

  • Keep important files backed up

This will keep your data safe in case it is stolen by ransomware. You can do this with a

thumb drive, DVDs, or through web-based storage.

  • Be suspicious of unusual emails

The email may be from someone you know but be sure to determine that the email us something that they would send to you. Malware copies the address book of the user infected and sends similar emails containing the virus.

  • Delete emails that are suspicious or are from unknown senders