Cryptolocker: Old viruses with new tricks

virusphotoIn the past few months a new variant of the “ransomware” virus has become quite prevalent on the internet.  “Ransomware” is designed to do exactly what the name implies.  Once a user unwittingly opens a file, usually from a malicious or unknown email, the program begins to encrypt almost every type of file located in your computer.  This virus goes after MS Office, Adobe, even image files.  Upon successfully encrypting all your important documents, the software then tries to extort you for money.  Although the screenshot above is small and difficult to read, the summary of the text is plain and simple.  The virus gives you a timeframe of 72 hours, where you can either pay the ransom price or all your files will be lost forever.  The authors of the malware have even set up an online portal where infected users can pay and retrieve the decryption key from.  The primary way users have been infected by this malware is through the opening of email attachments.

While new variations of malware continually pop up and change, the primary means of protecting ones computer has not.  As an end user, being aware of basic security precautions is no different than looking both ways before crossing the street.  A new email arrived, who is it from and what is the subject?  A letter from UPS about shipping invoices is attached, have you bought anything recently?  Taking a few seconds to double-check the sender of an email attachment can save you and your computer from headaches, hassle, and money-grubbing viruses.  While anti-virus software is a good starting spot, malicious computer programs targeting website visitors have become more popular lately.  Taking precautions while browsing online will dramatically reduce your chances of encountering these headaches as well.  When visiting sites such as Facebook or a popular news site such as ArsTechnica, be cautious about clicking any advertisements.  Some of these sites inadvertently host “drive-by” malware, which can infect your computer without any user interaction.  Although Cryptolocker is most commonly launched in email, there are a few cases of websites serving infected ads.

Staying conscientious of what you click on, open and read will keep your computer clean and more importantly running smoothly.

Open house features cider, donuts

The call of winter is in the air. The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing, and everyone is hard at work. If you need a little break, sprinkled with some fall spirit, please attend the Autumn Cider and Donuts Open House, hosted by the Center for Teaching Excellence and Staff Development. The Open House will take place tomorrow, Thursday, November 14, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in room 120 of the ATC. There is no need to RSVP–just drop in. Snacks, cider, and great conversation will be provided.

Seats available for Leadership workshop next Thursday

Leadership Your Team Will Follow

Thu Nov 21, 2013

9 AM – 12 PM

Room 124 ATC

What are the hallmarks of a great leader? To begin, a great leader is one who understands the importance of capitalizing on the strengths of their team. They also know the importance of creating a healthy and positive work environment by fostering clear and open lines of communication. Finally, great leaders rally their team to align their personal and professional visions with your overall department / organization goals.

In this interactive workshop, you will discover:

1) What makes you a great leader and where are your growth opportunities

2) How conducting a SWOTS analysis of your department/organization is imperative for goal attainment 3) Ways to empower your team, help them realize their potential, and foster great working relationships 4) That the admission of weakness doesn’t equate to failure, but rather provides a platform for modeling professional growth and empowerment.

Workshop will be facilitated by Kim Monaghan, Career Coach & Consultant. Available to all Staff and Faculty. Please register online at or call Staff Development at ext. 4285.

Spotlight on Wellness Professor Laura Kennett’s Blog

Wellness Professor Laura Kennett, is the author of a blog called, “A Handbook for Fitness & Wellness Professionals.” She writes, “This blog is dedicated to anyone looking to improve the quality of their life personally or professionally.” Laura’s most recent post titled, “What Giving Does,” focuses on Giving and Spiritual Wellness. Take a look at Laura’s blog here. Laura writes on everything from understanding obesity, to leadership and academic careers in exercise science, this is a great blog to follow!

Staff Development challenge targets holiday weight

Did you know that the average American gains one to two pounds during the holidays — and never loses it? With all the good food to eat at the holidays, it can be easy to overeat and gain unwanted weight. Join the challenge today to prevent those unwanted pounds!

Staff Development is pleased to announce a “Hold it for the Holidays” challenge! If you would like to participate, click here.


Teams selected for Armen Awards

An announcement from Michael Schavey, of the Department of Experiential Learning:

I’m happy to announce that eight amazing and strong proposals have been submitted. There is a wide range of disciplines, including Psychology, Nursing, Biology, Automotive and German. It’s outstanding to know that through this event, faculty and students will understand the impact one makes when given the opportunity to apply their learning to benefit the community.

  • Hope Hagan and her Business & Technical Writing course is partnering with the Covenant House.
  • Aleta Anderson and her Introductory German course is partnering with Palmer Elementary School.
  • Sarah Krajewski and her Biology for Educators course is partnering with Immaculate Heart of Mary School.
  • Dr. Kate Byerwalter and her Child Psychology course is partnering with Family Promise.
  • Dr. Sherry Knoppers and her Community Transcultural Nursing course is partnering with South East Outreach Ministry.
  • Gayl Beals and his Automotive Job Training course is partnering with Mel Trotter Ministries.
  • Jolanta Lanier and her Personal Health course is partnering with the American Cancer Society.
  • Bethane Talsma and her Office Ethics and Etiquette course is partnering with Gilda’s Club.
Please help me congratulate these faculty!

For more information on the Armen Awards please visit

Mathematics Seminar to look at lines from science viewpoint

The Grand Rapids Community College Mathematics Department will host its next Mathematics Seminar on Wednesday, November 13, 3:00 – 4:00 PM in 107 Cook.  Our presenter, GRCC Chemistry Instructor Tom Neils, will discuss fitting lines to sets of data from the point of view of a scientist.

The mathematics in this seminar will be accessible to anyone with a good understanding of slope and equations of lines, and will give attendees a scientist’s perspective on an important topic in mathematics, the sciences and related fields.  Everyone in the greater GRCC community is welcome.

Pop and cookies will be served at 2:45 PM.

“What’s My Line?”

 Many scientific experiments are carried out to determine the mathematical relationship between two or more variables. Graphing the experimental data is often the most effective way of finding this mathematical relationship, because one can determine a curve of best fit for the trend in the data and also obtain a visual of the relationship between the variables. During this interactive seminar we will discuss the extent to which chemists will go to obtain a linear fit for their data and get some practice fitting the slope-intercept formula to various data sets.