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Webinar Tackles Ransomware Dangers, Defenses

October 23, 2020

Digital warning symbolThe California Community Colleges (CCC) Information Security Center is playing a central role in how the system deals with an increasingly common form of cyber attack known as ransomware.

In a collaboration with the Chancellor’s Office, the Information Security Center team — led by Aamir Khan, Chief Information Security Office for the CCC Technology Center — will host a ransomware-defense webinar on Wednesday, October 28, starting at noon. The webinar will feature a review of the current methods of ransomware attack and the best practices that can be used by colleges to defend against such attacks.

Presenters will include:

  • Barney Gomez, Vice-Chancellor, CCC Digital Innovation & Infrastructure Division
  • Stephen Heath, Executive Consultant - Information Security, CCC Chancellor's Office
  • Aamir Khan, Chief Information Security Officer, CCC Technology Center

To attend the webinar, register here. Details for joining the session via CCC ConferZoom will be emailed upon completion of registration.

In a recent message to the field, Gomez noted a recent rise in ransomware attacks on higher education institutions, including California community colleges. The ransomware-defense webinar is a response to this alarming trend.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware used by hackers to block access to computer networks and files unless a ransom is paid. Often, ransomware is the result of “phishing” emails, which trick users into clicking a link and inadvertently downloading malicious software that gives the hackers access to the network. According to Verizon's 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, ransomware accounted for approximately 80 percent of the 819 incidents reported in the educational services sector in 2019 — up from 48 percent the previous year.

Higher education is particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks because of the need to remotely support a diverse group of users — including researchers, students, faculty, and staff. So far this year, ransomware has hit more than 30 higher education institutions, including Michigan State University, Regis University, and University of California San Francisco.

Though not all organizations choose to pay the demanded sum, UCSF in July paid out $1.1 million to its attackers — one of the largest ransoms ever paid in the public sector.