Cybersecurity is a top priority for the NDTO.  We offer several services related to IT security, and we are working constantly with our parishes and schools to maintain secure environments.  Here are resources related to common threats that we face.

Preventing ransomware attacks

May 2017 Bulletin

A major ransomware attack was launched worldwide on May 12.  At this point, over 200,000 sites are reported to have fallen victim to this attack in nearly every country on Earth, and there are likely to be many thousands more that are unreported.  This adds up to hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide.

Reports indicate that this attack was based on Windows operating system vulnerabilities known to the NSA, and released to the public through hacking and espionage.  Victims are running out-of-support versions of Windows such as Windows XP, as well as supported versions such as Windows 7 and Server 2008.  Infected machines have their file storage encrypted, and owners are required to pay Bitcoins to the attackers to unencrypt their data.  The ransom starts at $300, and increases over time. This attack is a worm: once it gets into your internal network, it will try to spread to all your Windows computers.  This can lead to thousands of dollars in potential ransom payments.

This is an active threat to our campuses.  Our security vendors for firewall and malware scanning have already responded with updates to address this attack.  Here are actions you should take:

  • Encourage staff to be wary of phishing emails, which is one vector for this attack
  • Check with support vendors and technical staff to ensure that they are monitoring systems for infection
  • Update Windows operating systems with the appropriate patches for this vulnerability
  • Notify the NDTO if you are being phished, or have active ransomware — we can help

All Windows computers should have malware scanning software installed. NDTO has a license agreement in place for the Bitdefender product available as a service to all of our campuses.

Longer-term, you should be planning to retire/replace/upgrade any Windows computers earlier than Windows 10.  Windows servers should be upgraded to Windows Server 2016.  These versions receive the highest levels of support from Microsoft in terms of security updates.  You also need a strong backup/recovery strategy in place that allows you to rebuild your servers and computers quickly.  The NDTO can review your strategy and help you improve it as needed.