Cyber attack hits Haryana’s power discom’s billing data

The cyber attack took place on March 21 and an FIR was registered at Panchkula’s Sector-5 police station on March 23

By: Express News Service | Panchkula | Published: March 29, 2018 1:45:47 am
Cyber attack hits power discom’s billing data The cyber attack took place on March 21 and an FIR was registered at Panchkula’s Sector-5 police station on March 23 (Representational)

A Haryana power discom faced cyber attack on its Automatic Meter Reading System (AMR) in which billing data of about 4,000 industrial consumers has been encrypted. The cyber attackers sought Rs 1 crore extortion money to offer code of the encrypted data. “We have backup of the data and we will reformat it,”Haryana Additional Chief Secretary (power) PK Das told The Indian Express Wednesday.

The cyber attack took place on March 21 and an FIR was registered at Panchkula’s Sector-5 police station on March 23 under Section 66 of the IT Act, 2000 and Section 384 (demand of extortion) of the IPC.

The affected power discom, Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited (UHBVNL), is a government undertaking, which undertakes the power distribution and retail supply business in the northern parts of the state. The attacker flashed a message on the computer screen of the discom asking it to pay the extortion money through Bitcoin, an online system where payments are made without banks, in lieu of the code for the billing data.

A spokesperson of the Nigam said Wednesday that the cyber attack has not at all affected the billing of industrial consumers as the backup of the billing data is available with the UHBVNL. “The billing of about 4,000 consumers has already started functioning normally,” he added.

“There is no business loss and there is continuity in the business,” added the spokesperson.

“Immediately after the attack, the complete system study was carried out by the officers, cyber expert as well as other IT experts. The database was found encrypted,” he added.

A senior officer attached with IT wing of UHBVN said, “The hacked data belongs to industries, which consume electricity between 15KW and 20KW. The data relates to nine circles; Panchkula, Ambala, Rohtak, Yamunanagar, Panipat, Rohtak, Kaithal and Karnal. The encrypted data contains the figures of paid or unpaid bills. “

Sources in UHBVN claim that the hackers had made similar attempts earlier also.

“The police probe is on. We will refer it to the police’s Cyber Cell also,” says Inspector Karambir Singh, SHO of Panchkula’s Sector-5 Police Station-5.
Meanwhile, the UHBVNL says it had already taken steps much before to phase out the existing system of billing data and to be replaced by latest, robust and technologically advanced system which would be operational by the end of May 2018.

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