Don’t WannaCry? Here’s NUI Galway’s four step guide to beating ransomware

Did you know more than half of Irish companies have reported a data breach in 2016 and that cybercrime is estimated to have cost Irish companies €600 million in 2015, with that figure projected to reach €1 billion by 2020.

In response to those startling facts NUI Galway are taking the lead on a new national research initiative in digital security that will apply data analytics to cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The initiative will be led by the University’s Discipline of Information Technology, the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and other national research centres across Ireland.

As part of their announcement today and in response to the recent WannaCry ransomware, which has spread rapidly across the world, the university has set out a four point guide to protecting yourself from attacks of this kind.

1. Make sure you have backups in place for your important data, and that they are running correctly. The best response to a ransomware attack is to erase your computer, reinstall your programs, and restore your documents, photos, and other data from backups.

2. Have Windows auto-updates turned on.There was an update from Microsoft about a month ago, to fix the specific weakness that was exploited by WannaCry, but new ransomware programs will make use of newly discovered exploits.

3. Have Windows Firewall and Windows Defender active, and if you have your own anti-virus software, keep it running and up-to date.

4. Whenever you receive an email message with a link or attachment, take great care to ensure that it is legitimate and expected, before clicking on the link or opening the attachment. If in doubt, just don’t open links or attachments. Contact the sender to verify whether they really sent the message.

Commenting on the new national research initiative, Dr Michael Madden from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said the excellent research taking place across Ireland on cybersecurity at present was dispersed and lacked visibility.

"Therefore, we are seeking to establish an all-Ireland, world leading collaboration, performing research on protecting our increasingly interconnected society and our citizens from digital threats."

"There are opportunities for Ireland in developing a new research capability in digital security. For example, there are new industry clusters and in-company units in cybersecurity emerging in Ireland, and they have a growing demand for well-educated staff."

By harnessing the synergies between academics, industry, state agencies, and international collaborators, Dr Madden and his colleagues aim to improve the country’s resilience to threats and contribute to the growth of this new employment sector.

For more information about the new digital security initiative contact Dr Michael Madden, College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway at michael.madden@nuigalway.ie

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