Indian Forest Department falls victim to Ransomware attack

Ransomware managers are exploring newer victims and the latest to fall in their trap in Indian Forest Department. In March this year, sensitive data related to accounts and finance of State Forest Department of Kerala was hacked. The data which was stored in a local network of 20 computers at the headquarters was found to locked by unidentified hackers. The culprits, suspected to be Russian hackers, are said to have used the deadly ‘RSA-4096’ virus which was downloaded by a Forest official through an image file and was further shared within the network. The hackers then demanded an undisclosed sum, to unlock the data.

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Ransomware attacks Indian Forest Department

The 25-member IT wing of Forest Management Information System tried to recover the data for a month without any success. Thereafter, Antivirus specialists were called in to decode the encryption who met the same fate as the IT wing. The matter was further escalated to Computer Emergency Response Team-Kerala (CERT-Kerala), a nodal agency of Kerala State IT Mission for cyber security. The measures suggested by the latter were tried out, but the encryption was done with such a powerful algorithm that no measures were enough to recover the locked files and folders.

After failing to receive solution from every possible resource, the forest officials finally decided to let the data go. Being a Government organization they could not think of paying the ransom, also such attackers have no credibility that they would unlock the data even after getting the ransom amount.

The officials finally deleted the affected files and folders and beefed up the network security. This was the first of its kind of an attack to have happened on a public system.

Experts believe that in coming days, Government offices and public networks could be the easy targets for the Ransomware makers as most of them lack necessary security measures.

Ransomware in India is on the rise and it is the 5th most attacked country in the world. For now, users are advised to take precautions and practice extreme caution while downloading or clicking any file from the internet.

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Ankit Gupta is an Engineering graduate & an MBA post graduate. He brings with himself 3 years plus global writing experience on technology, travel & finance. He follows technological developments, especially on gadgets. Apart from having an interest in following Microsoft, he also has a deep liking for wild life, & travels to various wildlife conservatories, to be with nature.