The cyber cell of Madhya Pradesh police department was caught by surprise when Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT) research scholar Chandra Bhushan Tripathi approached them about a malicious programme, Ransomware, on February 27.
On February 3, Tripathi’s laptop was infected by the malware that encrypted all his files and asked him to pay up a ‘ransom’ to retrieve the data. This is the first attack by the malware to be reported in the state.
“The police initially refused to register a case saying it is a normal computer virus. But on explaining they understood that it is much more than a mere computer virus attack. They registered a case on charges of unauthorised access to a private computer under section 66 of the Information Technology Act,” Tripathi told HT.
According to the research scholar, even IT experts in the city were not able to decrypt his files. “They were also oblivious about the new phenomenon, which I later came to know is a new lethal malware ‘Ransomware’,” he said.
The research scholar lost all the data stored in his laptop, which was about 50 gigabytes.
WORLDWIDE WEB OF RANSOMWARE
From Russia to Europe and American and now India, the malware has emerged as a new tool of cyber crime
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing data stored in their computer by encrypting data and locking them with a password
It asks victims to pay a ransom online to retrieve the data
The ‘ransom’ amount varies from $24 to $600 or its equivalent in Bitcoin -- a virtual currency.
How does it attack?
One can fall victim unwittingly when clicking on to malicious or compromised websites. Some Ransomware are also delivered as attachments to spammed emails
When did it emerge?
The first cases of Ransomware attack emerged in 2006 in Russia. Initially, it was limited to Russia, but soon found its way into other European countries. By 2012, it found its way to North American countries, like USA and Canada.
What is Bitcoin?
The Ransomware asks its victims to pay ransom in Bitcoins, a digital currency, which is created and held electronically.
Developed by Japanese software developer Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009, the currency is not physically printed or minted under any central bank of a country
It is free from any central authority and transferred electronically with low transaction fees.
Bitcoins are created digitally by a community which can be joined by anyone
There are online Bitcoin exchanges, like unocoin.com, buysellbitco.in and btcxindia.com from where one can buy or sell bitcoins. In India one Bitcoin is priced at Rs 27,815.67 (as on March 12. 2016), however, the value of Bitcoin in exchange to national currencies changes from day to day
It has been banned partially or fully in many countries, including China, Sweden, Thailand, Russia, Iceland, Vietnam and Bolivia.
December 2, 2015: A hackers group, Armada Collective, attacked three Greek banks with the malware and demanded a ransom of 15 Bitcoins
March 1, 2016: Computer system of a hospital in Los Angeles, USA, was attacked by the malware which shutdown of the computers for two weeks. A payout of more than $17,000 was sought