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University College London computer network held to ransom in cyberattack

June 15, 2017 11:17 AM
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'Zero-day' ransomware infection causes computer chaos at leading London university

A leading university in London is fighting to regain control of its computer networks after a strain of ransomware infected it systems this week (14 June). The campus' IT team has said the malware gained a foothold via phishing emails but stressed that up-to-date backups exist.

Experts from University College London (UCL) said initial analysis suggested the malware was part of a "zero-day attack", when software targets a previously-unknown vulnerability, because the standard "virus checkers" did not show any suspicious activity during infection.

Ransomware locks down sensitive computer files and documents before demanding money, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, for their return. One variant, called "WannaCry",

UCL said the ransomware infected a number of user's personal and shared drives, also known as N (Network) and S (Shared) drives. After the IT team became aware of the infection, these were disabled for a short period before being changed to "read-only".

it had no reports of the unidentified ransomware infecting Mac or Linux machines.

It is believed the university keeps hourly backups of its data, meaning restoration from the ransomware should be possible.


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