A year after the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) was hit by a ransomware attack, two fresh attacks have been reported in Navi Mumbai. The targeted establishments include the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital and a hotel in Kharghar, police said. While police are still probing the matter, they have clarified that this might be an attempt by an amateur.
The MGM hospital in Navi Mumbai was targeted by a ransomware on Sunday, police said. “They had been locked out of their data by the malware and the virus spread before it could be contained. They have been contacted by the criminals who have demanded money over bitcoins. We have lodged a case and are trying to identify the criminals, through the IP addresses and file extensions,” said a senior officer from Navi Mumbai police.
Almost 10 days back, Hotel Three Star in Kharghar had come under a similar attack. “There are several similarities between the two attacks as both used outdated security and had easy-to-breach interfaces. They are very different from the last year’s attack on JNPT,” the officer added.
According to advocate Vicky Shah, who specialises in cyber law, the only way to avoid a ransomware attack is to prevent it. “A ransomware is a software that manages to encrypt the data available on the network, locking it away from the users. Some ransomware can even copy the details, making it a confidentiality issue. The data can be retained only if the software is unlocked, with a key that only the creator of the ransomware has,” he said. He added, “Everyone is at risk, businesses and individuals alike. As long as there is data available on a system that can connect to internet, it may be targeted.”
The software enters systems through unknown and spurious attachments or links, Shah said. “In order to prevent attacks, people need to ensure they have original security softwares and use only original Windows software. Downloading any unknown attachments or clicking on unknown links can make your system vulnerable,” he said.
Once the system is affected, the only way to get rid of the virus is to factory reset the system, and having data back-ups, experts claim. “The hospital had data backed up until June, and thus they are facing a problem. However, they are managing to gather July’s data,” the senior police officer said.
Meanwhile, the Navi Mumbai police are issuing guidelines against ransomware attacks. “A lot of businesses have very less information about ransomware. We are going to issue guidelines and request them to upgrade their security,” the officer said.