Calgary, AB,

Calgary police warning citizens about ransomware attacks

The Calgary Police Service Cyber/Forensics Unit is warning citizens about an alarming ransomware attack that is taking advantage of vulnerabilities in businesses’ and individuals’ cybersecurity.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software, also known as malware, which infects a computer, denies access to a system or data and demands a sum of money to restore the information. Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly more common, and targets both individuals and businesses. Ransomware may also have an impact on access to smartphones, servers and entire networks.

Last week, WannaCry Ransomware infected thousands of computers worldwide. Although the CPS hasn’t received any reported cases relating to WannaCry Ransomware, citizens should still take the following precautions to secure their data and avoid becoming a victim.

“As technology evolves, it’s important for citizens to be aware how their devices and data could be vulnerable,” says CPS Cyber/Forensics Unit Staff Sergeant Cory Dayley. “Quite often there are simple things that can be done to protect against a cyberattack. Unfortunately once data has already been comprised, it is difficult to restore and the loss can have an enormous impact on the victim.”

For personal computers:

  • Never click links or open attachments in emails sent to you by someone you don’t know.
  • Only install trusted software.
  • Always keep your operating systems, antivirus and other software up to date. Cybercriminals will often take advantages in weaknesses that exist in old versions of software.
  • Keep a regular back up of your data on a separate, removable hard drive.
  • Install reputable antivirus software on all of your devices including mobile phones and tablets.
  • Secure your home Wi-Fi with a password.
  • If you do become a victim, report it to police by calling 403-266-1234.

For businesses:

  • Train all of your employees in safe internet practices, including data storage, visiting unsecure websites, and clicking links or opening attachments in emails.
  • Conduct regular data backups that is stored in a place not connected to the network, such as a cloud or removable media.
  • Restrict administration privileges to users who require them for their job.
  • Use a reputable security software suite.
  • Use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running.
  • Make sure all software, including antivirus, is up to date on all computers and devices.
  • Develop a business continuity plan and incident response plan.
  • If you do become a victim, report it to police by calling 403-266-1234.

For more information on ways citizens and business can protect their data and information from cyberattacks, click on the infographics below.