State of Affairs of Ransomware Attacks in India: 2019
Did you know more than 230,000 ransomware attack submissions were discovered in 2019 between April 1st and September 30th? Last year, the resurging ransomware attack in India became a headache for the corporate sectors targeting and affecting various organizations across the nation. In fact, the three most notorious members of the ransomware family- Ryuk, Purga, and Stop made major headlines in the nation.
The Stop ransomware caused about 10.10% of the ransomware attacks followed by Ryuk making about 5.84% attacks along with Purga for deploying 0.80% of ransomware attacks! (source: TSG Sunday Guardian Live) Ryuk seemed to have been the most active threat landscape in the Indian public as well as private sectors. On the other hand, brute-force attacks on RDP and SMB seems to have steadily increased in 2019.
As per Business Standard, last year was entirely the year of ransomware attacks on municipalities. It was observed that not less than 174 municipal institutions were targeted with more than 3000 subset organizations! In comparison, 60% of the increase from 2018 was experienced in 2019.
Ransomware attacks are not only rising at the double rate globally but are also greatly varying in ransom, amounting up to $5,300,000 and $1,032,460 on average. Although, these figures may vary depending upon the cost of attacks and how devastating the consequence will be! To know how brutal ransomware attacks can get, here are the top attacks that have taken place in India till now.
Top 6 Ransomware Attacks in India
According to the cyber security survey report, 67% of Indian enterprises have been hit by ransomware in 2018. What’s more worrisome is that India is among the highest ransomware infected countries in the world. Here is the list of the latest ransomware attacks in India that happened in years:
- Telangana and AP Power Utilities Hacked
A malicious software attacked the power utility systems of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh last year where all the servers went down until the glitch was rectified. Since the computer systems of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh power utilities were interlinked, the virus attack quickly spread, taking down all the systems.
- UHBVN Ransomware Attack
Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam was hit by a ransomware attack where the hackers gained access to the computer systems of the power company and stole the billing data of customers. The attackers demanded Rs.1 crore or $10 million in return for giving back the data.
India was the third worst-hit nation by WannaCry ransomware, affecting more than 2 lakh computer systems. During the first wave of attack, this ransomware attack had hit banks in India including few enterprises in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. The ransomware majorly affected the US healthcare system and a well-known French car manufacturing firm.
- Mirai Botnet Malware Attack
This botnet malware took over the internet, targeting home routers and IoT devices. This malware affected 2.5 million IoT devices including a large number of computer systems in India. This self-propagating malware was capable of using exploitable unpatched vulnerabilities to access networks and systems.
India was one of the top 10 countries to be hit by Petya ransomware. This ransomware attack halted work at one of the terminals of India’s largest seaport causing computer lockdown and serious consequences for the country’s exports.
- BSNL Malware Attack
The state-owned telecom operator BSNL was hit by a major malware attack, impacting nearly 2000 broadband modems! 60,000 modems became dysfunctional after the malware attack hit the Telecom Circle.
Proactive Measures to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
As we continue to develop smart cities and smart grid technologies in 2020, the risk of ransomware attacks will stay put as a big challenge for all the organizations. Apart from focusing on development and advancement, every industry vertical must understand the crucial role of cyber security.
With the help of these below listed proactive measure, organizations can reduce or prevent the constantly evolving ransomware attacks in the future:
Employee Awareness Training
Cyber threat actors mostly use emails as bait in attempting cyber attacks on an organization and humans being the weakest link tend to easily fall for it. So to avoid and overcome this problem, organizations must train employees by making them aware of the prevailing cyber threats. A proper cyber security program can help in reducing the threat of employee error.
Backup your Data Separately
The best way to stay proactive is by backing up your data in a separate external storage device but it should not be connected to your computer. Backing up your data will help in securing it from being encrypted and misused by cyber attackers.
- Regular Vulnerability Assessment
The basic cyber security hygiene like vulnerability assessment can help in preventing malware like ransomware. With the help of continuous vulnerability assessment, one can find out the exploitable vulnerabilities and fix them before any threat actor discovers it.
- Never Click on Unverified Links
Avoid clicking links that are attached in spam emails or on an unfamiliar website. Such links are the bearers of malicious files that badly infects the user’s computer when clicked. Moreover, these links are the pathways for ransomware to access the user’s system and encrypt or lock confidential data for ransom.
- Use Security Software
With cybercrimes becoming more widespread and constantly evolving in nature, protection against them has never been more crucial. It is necessary for organizations to secure their entire IT infrastructure with comprehensive cyber security software and solutions to blocking and keep the cyber threat postures at bay.
Among all other cyber attacks, ransomware is one kind of criminal activity that can be easily prevented by these above-mentioned solutions. Companies must remain vigilant, watchful and prepared to stay protected against such prevailing cyber risks. The best way to deal with ransomware is to stay protected by following healthy security practices and avoiding suspicious emails in the first place!