‘Wannacry’ ransomware: Bengal power distribution company hit by cyberattack, say officials
Officials said employees at the billing offices in Narayangarh, Keshiyari, Dantal and Belda in West Midnapore district found that they were unable to access the contents of the internet-linked computers.india Updated: May 15, 2017 17:26 IST
At least 4 offices of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL) that cater to around 8,00,000 households on Monday came under attack by the crippling global ransomware, ‘WannaCry’, designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.
Officials said employees at the billing offices in Narayangarh, Keshiyari, Dantal and Belda in West Midnapore district found that they were unable to access the contents of the internet-linked computers.
“When the employees tried to access the data stored in the computers, a note flashed on the screen that access will only be available after a ransom of $300 is paid. The note also mentioned the payment can be made through the Bitcoin gateway, where an account number was also mentioned, which made us sure that our computers have been attacked by ransomware,” an official of WBSEDCL said.
Following the development, WBSEDCL’s zonal and divisional managers rushed to the respective billing offices. The bill payment process in all the 4 offices remained affected till 4pm.
“Efforts are on to make alternative arrangement for bill process. But surely it will take some time. Software experts have been asked to tackle the crisis,” Amulya Maiti, the West Midnapore zila parishad member (power), said.
State power minister Sovandeb Chatterjee told the Hindustan Times he has instructed the WBSEDCL managing director to consult experts and implement protective systems that are necessary.
“This is a matter of serious concern. Work was disrupted today, but we are fortunate that the same set of data was stored separately in the central server of the utility in Kolkata,” Chatterjee said.
“I have instructed the WBSEDCL managing director to urgently consult experts and implement whatever protective systems are necessary,” the minister said.
“I went to the power office to pay my bills, but had to return as the queue was unusually long and the counters were closed,” said Sayan Maity, resident of Khakurda village under Belda police station
India is on high alert, monitoring critical networks across sectors like banking, telecom, power and aviation to ensure that systems are protected against the attack that has claimed victims in more than 150 countries over the weekend.
Hackers have blocked access to computer programs and demanded money in exchange for solving the problem, a tactic referred to as ‘ransomware’.
The initial attack, known as WannaCry or WannaCrypt, paralysed computers running Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies around the world.