Ransomware attacks have become a growing concern for security researchers. In emerging economies like India where the government is running digital programs as flagship schemes to digitally empower society and knowledge economy, Ransomware attacks have become a grave threat. It can affect both, the safety and well-being of users. The recent episode where India Berhampur Citi Hospital information management system was hit by WannaCry or WannaCrypt ransomware is a case in point.
WannaCry Ransomware in India
Odisha was the latest state in India to be hit by the file encrypting ransomware. The attack affected e-medicine services and payment to ASHA workers. The essential data of the hospital’s email id was also believed to be hacked. The attackers had similar special Modus operandi as seen in other countries i.e. the attackers allegedly demanded $300 to restore the access to the hospital’s system.
After learning about the incident, the central government acted swiftly by dispatching a technical team to the spot to examine the issue. The team included officials from 3 institutions
- International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT)-Bhubaneswar, Odisha
- Computer Application Center
- National Informatics Centre.
It was found that the medical authorities were reportedly using Windows 7, the older version of the Windows operating System which was not updated.
A report revealed India was the third worst hit nation by this ransomware. Other major places in India paralyzed by WannaCrypt ransomware are:
- Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), Andhra Pradesh, one of the richest Hindu shrines in the world. However, there was no impact on the software related to the pilgrim services of the TTD, including online booking for darshan and prasadam.
- 18 computers of Andhra Pradesh Police Dept were also infected.
- Computers in Panchayat offices in Wayanad and Pathanamthitta districts in Kerala too were infected.
- In Gujrat, over 120-odd computers connected with Gujarat State Wide Area Network were affected by the WannaCry ransomware attack. Fortunately, there was no “crucial data” lost in the cyber attack.
- About 10% of the total computers of the district administration Collectorate Office were affected in Vadodra.
- Computers of the Personnel Department of the Southern Railways’ Palakkad division were also compromised.
- West Bengal too, was affected. Reports suggest at least 10 computers at customer care centers of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) were attacked in West Midnapore and 2 other districts.
- Some banks across opted to shut down their ATM’s fearing an attack as a precautionary measure.
- There were also some minor incidents reported from Maharashtra where the Police department was also partially hit by the ransomware and few isolated ones in southern states of India like Kerala and Tamilnadu.
Apart from these, there were several isolated cases of PCs being infected by WannaCrypt ransomware being reported across India.
Ransomware in India is on the rise! India is on the road to economic progress and as a result, the ferocity & frequency of ransomware attacks are expected to increase exponentially. I guess it will take a couple of harsh attacks before organizations & the government realize the gravity of the situation and move towards safeguarding their digital assets.