Protecting Against WannaCry

Protecting yourself and SMU against the WannaCry Security Threat.

Criminal hackers released a new strain of ransomware called WannaCry on Friday, May 12, 2017, which infected over 200,000 computers worldwide. This new security threat appears to attack Windows computers that have not been receiving regular updates. These unpatched computers are easily infected. Once a computer on a network is infected, it places all the other computers on campus at risk.

How can WannaCry infect my computer?

The easiest way to be infected is through spam or phishing emails. Clicking on a malicious email attachment or link not only infects your computer, but also puts all the other computers on campus at risk. Once infected, the data on your computer becomes encrypted and you are notified to make payment to regain access to your computer.

What to do if I am attacked.

Take the following steps accordingly if Wannacry infects (encrypts) your computer

  • Unplug your network cable.
  • Contact the ITSS help desk immediately.
  • Do not unplug your computer, leave the message display on your computer screen.
  • Do not reattempt to log in to your computer by shutting down and restarting your computer.

How do I protect myself and SMU?

  • Ensure that your system update is done regularly (see below on how to maintain system updates on Windows 7, 10 and Mac computers)
  • Avoid clicking on unknown links or files (particularly .zip) within emails. When in doubt, contact the sender of the email if known to you.
  • Do regular backup of your devices.
  • Contact the ITSS Help Desk if you receive any questionable emails.

Windows 7: 

  • Click on the Start menu, type update in the search box, in the list of results, click Windows Update.
  • In the details pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your computer.
  • If you see a message telling you that important or optional updates are available, or telling you to review important or optional updates, click the message to view the updates to install.
  • In the list, select the check box for the updates that you want to install, click OK, and then click Install updates.

Windows 10:

The latest update in Windows 10 is now automatically downloaded and installed without the user having to do anything but note that occasionally your PC may need to restart to finish installing the update. You can choose to set active hours to prevent your PC from inconvenient restart while you are still using your PC.

To choose active hours to prevent your PC from inconvenient restart do the following:

  • Select the Start  button, then select Settings > Update & security > Windows Update, and then select Change active hours.
  • Choose the start time and end time for active hours, and then selectSave.


  • Open the App Store app on your Mac, then click Updates in the toolbar. 
  • If updates are available, click the Update buttons to download and install.

Note: If you are using OS X Snow Leopard or Lion, get OS X updates by choosing Software Update from the Apple menu and you can get app updates from the Mac App Store.

Note: Even though Wannacry has subsided for now, new variants or forms of attacks will come in the future.


If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the ITSS Help Desk at 902-496-8111 or