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  • Cyber Attack At My Local CC

    I was trying to register for Winter courses at my local community college last week, and the website wasn't working. I found that to be extremely odd to have the website be down for the week leading up to a new semester, but I thought 'oh well, that's community college for ya' lol!

    Fast forward to today...

    I received an email about twenty minutes ago saying that the school's servers were infected with a ransomware virus, and the school decided to pay up in exchange for a 'key' in order to access their hundreds of thousands of files being held random.

    Here is the email,

    "This is a follow up message on the malicious cyber activity that the LACCD is investigating that has disrupted many computer, online, email, and voice mail systems at LAVC. In consultation with district and college leadership, outside cybersecurity experts and law enforcement, a $28,000 payment was made by the District.

    It was the assessment of our outside cybersecurity experts that making a payment would offer an extremely high probability of restoring access to the affected systems, while failure to pay would virtually guarantee that data would be lost.

    After payment was made, a 'key' was delivered to open access to our computer systems. The process to 'unlock' hundreds of thousands files will be a lengthy one, but so far, the key has worked in every attempt that has been made.

    Our information technology department has a plan in place to bring back servers in a logical manner that prioritize key college services that impact communications with students, faculty and staff. There currently isnít a set time table for when all communication services are restored."

    I'm guessing they used bitcoin? I think it's untraceable...

    Cyber-crime is scary stuff...but stories like this interest the heck out of me...

    Side-note: My father mentioned this happened to a Presbyterian Medical Center near me in 2016 also...Guess it is somewhat common.
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  • #2
    I don't understand how this works

    don't people make backups ?

    if some group hijacked the servers can't you just shut them down, reinstall the operating system and then restore from backups ?

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    • #3
      they probably tried that and realized they had to many issues and / or the whole process would take a lot longer then they planned.
      Andy

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      • #4
        My professor at school said that it is better to pay than the time it would take to put everything back on.


        A year ago it happened to some hospitals.
        Three US hospitals hit by ransomware - BBC News
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        • #5
          I've heard this is the new way to cyberattack. Hospitals, schools...they can afford to pay a pretty good ransom, and the files are so important that they just do it. Plus, some of the companies are so behind the times that they don't have good backups and redundancies, nor do they have top-notch IT guys and plans in place - they're easy pickings.

          They do it to random people too - they have found that people will pay good money to get back all of their pictures stored on their computers with no backup!
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          • #6
            Good backup/restoration plan resolves this 100% of the time. There's no valid reason to pay if everything is in order on your DR and backup plan.
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            • #7
              It's not unusual for people to discover that their backups aren't as usable as they thought when the time comes to restore. Also there's always the possibility that the infection happened months before the ransom event and restoring back to that point would lose too much data.
              Accepted to Georgia Tech's Online MSCS program for Fall 2016.
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              • #8
                "I received an email about twenty minutes ago saying that the school's servers were infected with a ransomware virus, "

                And I was like "what?" He's a member here! And we are connected on LinkedIn...... oh wait... that's Ransomsoul. He's not a virus. He's a dad. Whew!

                Ok, in all seriousness, $28,000? So maybe I watch too much tv, but is someone really taking such a huge risk of prison time for $28,000? If I were a cyberhacker (control your laughter) I'd ask for WAY more than that. Add a zero.
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                • #9
                  To be fair, $28k USD is likely a decade's worth of salary for where these types of attacks often originate from
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                  • #10
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCZMhs_xpjc

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cookderosa View Post
                      "I received an email about twenty minutes ago saying that the school's servers were infected with a ransomware virus, "

                      And I was like "what?" He's a member here! And we are connected on LinkedIn...... oh wait... that's Ransomsoul. He's not a virus. He's a dad. Whew!

                      Ok, in all seriousness, $28,000? So maybe I watch too much tv, but is someone really taking such a huge risk of prison time for $28,000? If I were a cyberhacker (control your laughter) I'd ask for WAY more than that. Add a zero.
                      You have to find the sweet spot - enough money that it's worth your while, but not so much that they won't pay it. I guess for a CC, that's about $28k! If you asked for a million bucks, they probably wouldn't be able to come up with it. But large institutions can come up with $28k in 5 minutes. I'll bet the hackers can figure out the amount each company is willing to pay. Smart, not to go crazy. And do that a few times, and you're rich (at least, if you live in a 3rd world country).
                      WVNCC - A.A.S. - 5/2017
                      TESU BSBA in HR
                      (in progress) - 112cr, only 3 more classes to go...
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                      TECEP - Technical Writing 84% (3cr), English Comp II 79% (3cr), Applied LibArts Math 90% (3cr), Public Relations 70% (3cr), Computers 75% (3cr)
                      DSST - Intro to Computers/437 (3cr), Prin of Pers Finance/458 (3cr) - 2011 CLEP - Management/69 (3cr UL), Marketing/67 (3cr UL) - 2011

                      Ed4Credit - Accounting II 85% (3cr) Penn Foster - Financial Management 92% (3cr UL) ALEKS - Int Alg (3cr) - 2011, College Algebra (3cr) - 2015 Sophia - Project Management 85% (3cr UL) - 2015 Insurance Inst. of America - Ethics 72% (2cr) - 2015 Kaplan PLA (3cr) - 2015 Add'l ACE Credits (5cr UL) - 2000

                      Palomar College - Organizational Theory (3cr) - 2015 Mission College (36cr) - 92-98 Golden Gate Univ (12cr UL, 3cr LL) - 98-00 San Jose State Univ (12cr UL, 9cr LL) - 88-89

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                      • #12
                        With the current software available on the market, automatic backup checking should be in the minimum feature set when selecting backup. A long duration persistent infection is a possible attack, however it's unlikely to be effective with crypto varieties, because the goal is not to stay hidden but to be seen. It is pretty typical to keep months worth of backups with the current technology of incremental forward backups, and the cheap cost of disk. At a minimum, even since the 1990's I've kept 7 years of month end backups, for non-transaction data which seems to be what all auditors have asked m. Transaction data I typically keep incremental changes by capturing database log files before purging.

                        I would guess this is a case of a school who hired too few staff, or hired staff who did not have enough experience in this area -- or even worse they outsourced it to a provider who told them they had it under control. Backup is one of the items any IT professional learns early on is their first line of defense against the unemployment line -- operations professionals don't skimp on it.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mednat View Post
                          ...
                          I would guess this is a case of a school who hired too few staff, or hired staff who did not have enough experience in this area -- or even worse they outsourced it to a provider who told them they had it under control. Backup is one of the items any IT professional learns early on is their first line of defense against the unemployment line -- operations professionals don't skimp on it.
                          It also sounds like they timed the lockout to coincide with registration for a new term, putting extreme time pressure on any restore efforts.
                          Accepted to Georgia Tech's Online MSCS program for Fall 2016.
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                          • #14
                            Obviously, this college is just like the thousands of other organizations that thought it was OK to skimp on IT infrastructure.


                            Here is UCSF, a leading hospital in the US, trying to skimp by outsourcing backups and other IT infrastructure to India.


                            It's not enough to bring H1B to American soil. The real goal is to move these jobs to India permanently as part of a cloud offering for infrastructure as a service. This is why I'm no fan of those who go to school to become sysadmin/devops/network admins. Choose software engineering, security, MIS, or data analytics/data science instead.
                            Last edited by TrailRunr; 01-10-2017, 08:24 PM.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TrailRunr View Post
                              Obviously, this college is just like the thousands of other organizations that thought it was OK to skimp on IT infrastructure.


                              Here is UCSF, a leading hospital in the US, trying to skimp by outsourcing backups and other IT infrastructure to India.


                              It's not enough to bring H1B to American soil. The real goal is to move these jobs to India permanently as part of a cloud offering for infrastructure as a service. This is why I'm no fan of those who go to school to become sysadmin/devops/network admins. Choose software engineering, security, MIS, or data analytics/data science instead.
                              I don't disagree with the move of IT to other countries, but I can definitely say it's not limited to operations. In my career, i've seen more development jobs go overseas than operational. Business Analyst roles are typically the positions that stay, those who type the code often do it off of spec sheets submitted by the BA with little to no interaction with the end-user in many large organizations.

                              I don't agree with the model, and I have voiced my concerns every time I hear it suggested, but that is the trend. From what I've seen it's not cheaper, easier or faster. It's just easy for a sales person to present in a way that makes it appear to be cheaper, easier, faster. As connected as we are, there is still a significant cost for culture differences, and a journey across the globe. Informal interpersonal communications almost always play a larger role in organizations than executives think. This link between IT and business is severed pretty abruptly in this type of outsourcing situation.
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