Last Friday (12th May 2017), we faced the world’s most dangerous ransomware attack. It seized the computers of a lot of countries and took the systems as a hostage. According to the Cybersecurity professionals, they demanded a ransom of $300 from at least 2 million people as they watch their computers and electronic gadgets getting hacked.
It is a malicious piece of software, and it blocks access to computers until you pay the money. The software is WannaCry ransomware which took over the machines of more than 150 countries including India. Though it didn’t have any significant impact in India, but the cyber security experts are working round the clock from last two days to protect the corporate clients.
Why is India vulnerable to ransomware attack?
The hackers are called Shadow brokers. They demanded $300 in virtual currency Bitcoin for accessing user files. Till now they received more than $25000. They are attacking the old and outdated Windows version, like the Windows XP. And this is why India is vulnerable to the attacks. A lot of organisations and individuals in India still rely on the Windows XP. India also has the most number of pirated software users.
The software first attacked Britain’s National Health Service and then it spread to 150 more countries. It locked down victim’s computers and then threatened to delete the files if they didn’t pay $300. Thanks to a 22-year-old security researcher, who goes by the name @Malware technologies in Twitter. With the help of @Malware Technologies, most of the attack on Friday was contained. The researcher found that the attackers accidentally included a kill switch which will stop the ransomware attack.
A short-lived victory
But cyber security experts still think this victory is short lived. The reason is WannaCry Ransomware attack will take place soon after they modify the WannaCry Decryptor. They say it will continue to spread in a modified form. It is the most high-profile cyber-attack. Most of the federal agencies have completely stopped the use of Microsoft XP. In 2015, Microsoft got $9 million in a year from the Navy for continuing the Windows XP support. Now, the Navy is shifting towards the use of Windows 10.
In India, the attack affected Andhra Pradesh Police, four manufacturing companies, two retailers, to banks, the operations of a multinational corporations and the Chennai automation facility. India didn’t feel the real impact as the other countries yet. Sivarama Krishnan, the executive director at PWC, is working with his team to protect 2000 clients, identify the threats and block those using firewalls.
Almost all the corporations and organisations are upgrading their firewalls. They are also looking to wipe out any possible malware infections in their system. This ransomware attack should work as an eye-opener. The government has to use a different approach and use the same rules they apply to the real weapons in case of cyber-world too.