tidBiTS
Informs and engages the UNB community on IT developments and news

Management Briefing - Malware affects us all

Author: ITS

Posted on May 29, 2014

Category: Management Briefings

Background Malware refers to all kinds of malicious software including viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, etc. that can have disastrous effects on individual computers, entire networks, and the university. Combating malware is a constant battle for ITS. However, we are greatly assisted by various automated detection tools that are deployed on our computers and devices, and constantly updated. Over the years, the number of Mac computers in use at UNB has increased dramatically; currently over 20% of all desktops and laptops are Macs. Furthermore, the number of Apple devices connecting to our wireless network has skyrocketed recently, with over 75% of all non‐laptop wireless devices either iPhones or iPads. While many Mac (and other Apple product) users don’t worry much about malware on their devices, there is no immunity—there is always risk of exposure to malware. Although Mac OS X and iOS devices are generally regarded as good in terms of inherent security, modern malware can and does affect them. Macs are vulnerable Traditional viruses prey on vulnerabilities in a computer's operating system, but modern malware looks and behaves exactly like useful software—on the surface. Malware often serves two functions: one the user sees, and which does something useful like notify you of new email in your GMail account, while another function lies beneath the surface like sending your GMail password to the malware creator. Unfortunately, there is often no way for you as a user of this software to know that anything is wrong. Malware can affect more than just you. Many faculty and staff at UNB have access to the personal data of students or other members of the UNB community as a function of their job. When you use this data to teach, administer or manage people, you become the custodian of this personal information and have a responsibility to keep it secure at all times. This is part of what you agree to when you accept UNB's Acceptable Use Policy for the use of IT systems. Some malware is designed to target this kind of information, so Macs need to be protected like any other computer. Furthermore, UNB is obligated both by university policies and by provincial privacy law to take reasonable steps to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of any confidential or private information in the university’s custody. One of the first questions UNB will be asked in the event of a privacy breach caused by malicious software is whether as an institution we had taken prudent steps to help prevent or stop such attacks. Installing antivirus software is such a measure. Trusting that inherent security will always be effective isn’t. Coming soon to a Mac near you UNB has invested in anti‐malware software which can scan the files on your Mac computer and detect known viruses and other malware, quarantining them before they have a chance to spring their trap. Over the coming weeks, your Level 1 or a representative of ITS will be installing the Kaspersky company’s latest security software on all UNB‐owned computers. For most Mac users, this will be a new addition. Don’t worry, it runs in the background protecting you and UNB without impairing performance. For Windows users, the software will be merely an upgrade—you should already have an older version installed, and chances are you will not even notice the upgrade process. Participation in this program is not optional –it is a requirement for your continued use of the UNB assets and data that have been entrusted to you. Finally, don’t forget that your home computer needs protection too. The Kaspersky software is available for home use in a free download from the ITS website.

May 29, 2014, Security Action Team, ITS