Cybersecurity in spotlight; prevention tips offered

May 15, 2017 -- Tips to help prevent the spread of a resurgence of last week's cyber attack that hit systems in up to 100 countries, taking those systems offline and in some cases shutting down businesses and institutions entirely, have been compiled by NASCUS for the state system.

NASCUS, in partnership with CUNA, is sponsoring its fourth annual Cybersecurity Symposium early next month in San Diego; the attack and its aftermath is expected to be a key subject during the event.

The attack was carried out through ransomware, which exploits vulnerabilities in computer operating systems and also attempts to trick users in clicking links or downloading malware attachments. The result is the user’s computer files being encrypted, and a ransom is demanded to unlock the files. The ransomware (or “malware”) was discovered in April, and computer systems vendors (including Microsoft, quickly released a patch to address the vulnerability.

To prevent any resurgence, experts working with NASCUS recommend that users:

  1. Ensure that firewalls are configured properly, and have the latest software updates.
  2. Ensure that servers and workstations have the latest software patches. These are the patches that fix the operating system vulnerabilities that allow the malware into your system.
  3. Ensure that important files are backed up, at least on a nightly basis, to maintain data security.
  4. Ensure that users are aware of phishing emails. Users should be instructed not to click on any links they are not familiar with, or open any unfamiliar email attachments.  (A phishing email is one that tries to trick users into clicking a link or downloading an attachment.)
  5. Ensure that user accounts do not have administrator access.  This limits the damage that can be done, if a computer is compromised.

Updating software in any event is vital; instructions for Windows PCs are here (, and for Macs, here (

“This cyber attack has the drawn the attention of the world, underscoring the continuing need for effective cyber security,” said Lucy Ito, president and CEO of NASCUS. “The attack and its aftermath will, no doubt, be front and center during the NASCUS/CUNA Cybersecurity Symposium coming up June 5-6 in San Diego, which counts more than 20 experts presenting on cyber security techniques, best practices and latest developments. I’m looking forward to the discussion.”

NASCUS/CUNA Cybersecurity Symposium, June 5-6/San Diego