Advisory to campus: Make sure your remote access is secure

UC Davis is advising researchers to double-check some of their security settings in the wake of ransomware attacks at UC San Francisco and two other universities.

UC Davis has not been harmed, but the threat to faculty research and other vital work is real. The Netwalker attacks seek to collect ransomware payments as well as valuable intellectual property, such as research on a cure for COVID-19, reports Bloomberg in one of several reports about the incidents.

The risk involves on-campus computers or workstations that permit access from off-campus locations, typically with remote access tools, such as RDP (Windows Remote Desktop Protocol). UC Davis researchers, who are likeliest to use machines that fit this description, have been emailed a letter with more information and advice to:

  • Make sure access to the machine is protected by Duo multi-factor authentication.
  • Access the machine only through a campus virtual private network, or VPN.

If you have questions or think this situation might apply to you, check with your department’s technological support group.

For all of us, the attacks are another reminder to practice the basic good habits of information security—especially during the pandemic, when most faculty and staff are working from off campus:

  • Use multi-factor authentication to protect your campus accounts.
  • Always use current software, and keep it updated.
  • Use the campus VPN, or another reputable VPN, when connecting to sensitive UC Davis resources while away from campus.