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Hit by cyberattack, officials say traffic congestion in India’s largest container port JNPT unlikely

“The trade activity at JNPT has been reduced to a great extent over the past five to six months. There are various reasons behind it and Goods and Service Tax (GST) is one of them,” the official said.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2017 13:36 IST
Pranab Jyoti Bhuyan
Pranab Jyoti Bhuyan
Hindustan Times, Navi Mumbai
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust,Ransomware attack,Gateway Terminal India
Fishing trawlers are seen in front of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Mumbai.(Reuters)

Officials at Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), where one of the three terminals was hit by a global ransomware attack, said on Wednesday there won’t be a traffic congestion of containers as trade activity at India’s largest container port has been “reduced to a great extent”.

The Gateway Terminal India (GTI) impacted is operated by Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk, which has experienced outages in its computer systems globally. The GTI has a capacity to handle 1.8 million standard container units.

“It has been informed by the private terminal operator (AP Moller-Maersk) that this disruption is a consequence of a worldwide disruption being faced by them because of a cyber attack,” the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Had this problem occurred a few months earlier, there would have been severe traffic congestions both inside and outside the port by now. But the scenario has changed over the past few months. Still, if the officials cannot tackle the situation efficiently, there might be snarls of containers by evening,” a senior official said.

“The trade activity at JNPT has been reduced to a great extent over the past five to six months. There are various reasons behind it and Goods and Service Tax (GST) is one of them,” the official added.

According to the official, loading and discharge of containers have been totally stopped after the software at GTI stopped functioning since Tuesday night.

“There is limited space inside the port. So when containers cannot be loaded and discharged, traffic snarls of containers are normally expected here,” he further said.

The Hague-based APM Terminals also operates the Pipavav terminal in Gujarat. APM Terminals is a subsidiary of shipping giant Maersk, which has confirmed it has been hit by the cyber attack.

Foreign media reports quoted the Dutch public broadcast organisation RTV Rijnmond as saying that a new ransomware virus called Petya has hit 17 APM terminals, including two in Rotterdam and 15 in other parts of the world.

An APM spokesperson refused to comment on the India impact of the attack.

“We can confirm that Maersk’s IT systems are down across multiple geographies and business units due to a cyber-attack. We continue to assess the situation. The safety of our employees, our operation and our customers’ businesses is our top priority. We will update when we have more information,” the spokesperson said in a written statement issued globally.

Russia and Ukraine were most affected by the thousands of attacks similar to the ransomware that infected more than 300,000 computers last month. Other victims spread across countries including Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the United States. The total number of attacks was unknown.

The rapidly spreading cyber extortion campaign emphasised growing concerns that businesses have failed to secure their networks from increasingly aggressive hackers, who have shown they are capable of shutting down critical infrastructure and crippling corporate and government networks.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jun 28, 2017 12:55 IST