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Protect your school from WannaCry ransomware

16 May 2017

The weekend media reported on a virus called WannaCry that is targeting computers of public organisations and private companies around the world.
 
Some schools may have been affected by this virus and we are writing to let you know what you should do and what we are doing to protect schools.

What is WannaCry?

WannaCry is malicious software that is taking control of computer systems by blocking access to a device, then demanding a ransom to unblock it. The virus, a type of ransomware, is largely being spread through emails when users click on links or attachments. Once a device is infected, the virus can quickly spread to all devices using your organisation’s network.
 
You can read more about WannaCry in New Zealand from CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team), the lead government agency monitoring the situation and providing advice on cyber security threats.

How can you protect your school?

  • Keep your software up to date – Ensure all devices connecting to your school’s network are patched with the latest software updates. The virus is affecting devices using older versions of Microsoft Windows software (XP through to 2008 R2) by exploiting flaws in Microsoft Windows SMB Server. Turn automatic updates on wherever possible.
  • Be cautious of email attachments and links and remind your staff and students to do the same – Everyone should apply a duty of care when clicking on links and opening email attachments. Note: these could be sent by people you know including students or staff who are unaware their devices have been infected.
  • Don’t become complacent and make sure back up files are kept off site

If your school has been infected, please report the incident to CERT immediately via its website: https://www.cert.govt.nz/businesses-and-individuals/report-an-issue/ and do not pay the ransom.

What is being done about it

N4L has blocked all traffic on the Managed Network that is attempting to connect to malicious IP addresses known to be associated with this virus. They are also actively monitoring the Managed Network to spot traffic patterns that may indicate suspicious activity from connected devices.

Web safety and cyber security requires continuous vigilance, education and duty of care around how devices are used. This virus may evolve and we will continue to work closely with our technology partner, Spark, and government agencies such as Ministry of Education, CERT and Netsafe to help schools keep their online environments safe for teaching and learning.


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