‘India least prepared for ransomware due to low awareness’

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Kolkata: The country is least prepared to tackle the ransomware virus ‘WannaCry’ because of the low level of awareness about malicious software, a senior official looking after West Bengal’s IT security said on Wednesday.

The official told media sources that most Indian homes were using pirated Operating Softwares which were never updated, making them more vulnerable to the modern day virus threats like ransomware.

“Most Indian homes are vulnerable to Wannacry because of the pirated softwares they use,” the expert said.

He was critical about the casual approach adopted by government sectors where old machines were still in use with almost zero backup and no patches were ever applied making them open to such cyber threats.

He said that private sector companies in the city were regularly hit by ransomeware virus attacks in the last five years and that around 70 per cent of them were infected.

“The difference this time is that the virus attack is getting publicity. As of now, the ransom, which hackers have collected, has gone up to $50,000.”

Suggesting adoption of the old method of keeping important data backed up offline from time to time, the IT security expert warned that corporates using sync mirror backup was useless against ransomware.

“Neither home users nor office users are good in taking data backup. Corporates use sync mirror backup, which is useless against ransomware. And if the main server gets infected, sync server also gets infected.

“So we have to go back to the old method of offline backup, which corporate houses have to learn,” he stressed.

Both the central and state governments have advised individuals as well as organisations to apply patches to their Windows OS released from time to time by Microsoft to kill viruses, besides constantly updating the systems.

“The starting point of infection is one silly guy downloading an attachment or clicking on a link. So simply updating will not help. Even with updated operating system the ransomware will infect the system. Only if we stop clicking on links and attachment, the ransomware will stop,” he said.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

The country 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.