India Was Hit By A Global Cyber Attack Nearly 48,000 Computer Systems Became A Victim

Up to 74 countries have now been affected by a huge global cyber attack which hit globally. Other countries affected include the US, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, India and Mexico. The virus is thought to be spreading at a rate of five million emails per hour. A huge extortion cyber attack hit, holding computer data for ransom at hospitals, telecommunications firms and other companies. The attack appeared to exploit a vulnerability purportedly identified for use by the US National Security Agency and later leaked to the internet. The attack hit Britain’s health service, forcing affected hospitals to close wards and emergency rooms. Related attacks were reported in Spain, Portugal and Russia.

Two security firms Kaspersky Lab and Avast said they had identified the malware behind the attack in upward of 70 countries, although both said the attack has hit Russia hardest. The Russian interior ministry has confirmed it was hit by the “ransomware” attack, which encrypts data on infected computers and demands payment, usually via the digital currency bitcoin, to release it. Britain’s health service was also hit hard as the attack froze computers at hospitals across the country, shutting down wards, closing emergency rooms and bringing medical treatments to a screeching halt.

Amidst contradictory statement from cyber security experts and the India government that has left many confused about the impact of global cyber attack WannaCry ransomware in India, multiple reports surfaced claiming a fresh round of infections in the country. According to the cyber security experts, many corporate, institutions and individual have been hit by the ransomware. Only government offices have come forward and have reported the matter but no business enterprise has admitted cyber breach.

Corporates are internally trying to resolve it through their IT team and those who have not got any back up of their data are resorting to paying the ransom through bitcoin. The central government had earlier said the ongoing ransomware cyberattack didn’t have a serious impact in the country. Cyber-security experts, on the other hand, say the malware has infected at least 48,000 computer systems across various organisations in India raising doubts whether possible ransomware attacks are being properly reported in the country.

Pune-based Quick Heal Technologies has detected over 48,000 MS-17-010 Shadow Broker exploit hits responsible for ‘WannaCry ransomware’ outbreak in India. “The attack is not focused on any particular industry but is widely spread, especially across those organisations, which are online and connected,” Quick Heal Technologies’ managing director Sanjay Katkar said. He explained that 60 per cent of the attempts by the malicious ransomware were targeted at enterprises, while 40 per cent were on individual customers.

NHS in England was affected after hackers took control of computers and cut off phone lines in hospitals on International Nurses Day. And computers at Russia’s Interior Ministry have been infected with the malware, the ministry revealed. Other countries affected include the US, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Mexico.

The virus is thought to be spreading at a rate of five million emails per hour. In Russia’s Interior Ministry, more than 1,000 Windows-operated PCs have been affected. Spokeswoman Irina Volk said that the screens affected account for less than one percent of the total number of such computers in the ministry. Forcepoint Security Labs said that ‘a major malicious email campaign’ consisting of millions of emails per hour is what is spreading the new ransomware. The group said in a statement that the attack had ‘global scope’.

In Spain, employees at telecom giant Telefonica were told to shut down their workstations immediately through megaphone announcements as the attack spread. British government officials and intelligence chiefs have repeatedly highlighted the threat to critical infrastructure and the economy from cyber attacks. The National Cyber Security Centre said it had detected 188 “high-level” attacks in just three months. Britain’s National Health Service is a source of pride for many Britons but faces substantial budget issues and has had previous problems with its huge IT system.

Ransomware

A ransomware — a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid — dubbed “WannaCry” attacked hundreds of thousands of computers around the world. This ransomware that spreads as a worm needs only one computer on a given network to be infected. Following that, it automatically spreads to all linked computers. Once the malware gets installed on a system, the user is locked out and the hacker (who sent the ransomware) demands money (in this case it varies between $300 and $600 in BitCoins) to unlock the system. According to Microsoft, the cyber attack that has hit as many as 200,000 victims in over 150 countries should be treated by governments around the world as a “wake-up call”.

According to reports, the virus exploits a flaw in a version of Microsoft Windows. The attacks exploited the computers that were running outdated versions of Microsoft’s Windows. The flaw was first identified by US intelligence. Reportedly, the National Security Agency (NSA) alerted Microsoft about the issue three months ago and Microsoft released an upgrade that patched the flaw, but many users were yet to run it.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president said in a blog post, that the company, its customers and the government all share the blame. “The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call,” Smith wrote, adding that “cyber security has become a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers.”

Security experts have also expressed alarm over the fast-moving wave of cyber attacks around the world. The attacks came in the form of ransomware, a technique used by hackers that locks a user’s files unless they pay the attackers in bitcoin. The malware’s name is WCry, but analysts were also using variants such as WannaCry, WanaCrypt0r, WannaCrypt, or Wana Decryptor. Microsoft released a security patch earlier this year for the flaw, but many systems have yet to be updated, researchers said.

Researcher Costin Raiu of the Russian-based security firm Kaspersky said:’So far, we have recorded more than 45,000 attacks of the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware in 74 countries around the world. Number is still growing fast.’ Jakub Kroustek of Avast said on Twitter that the security firm had detected ‘36,000 detections of WannaCry (aka WanaCyptor aka WCry) ransomware so far. Russia, Ukraine, and Taiwan are leading. This is huge.’ In the United States the package delivery giant Fedex acknowledged it was hit by malware after one researcher cited the company as a target.

The Spanish government said several companies had been targeted in ransomware cyber attack that affected the Windows operating system of employees’ computers. It said the attacks were carried out with a version of WannaCry ransomware that encrypted files and prompted a demand for money transfers to free up the system. Spain’s Telefonica was among the companies hit. Bart’s Health, which runs several London hospitals, said it had activated its major incident plan, cancelling routine appointments and diverting ambulances to neighboring hospitals.

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