Time to be ready for unknown cyber risks: Experts

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Cyber Attack

Hyderabad: Governments and the private sector are attempting to isolate and recover from the ransomware attack, globally. They are trying to investigate and evaluate the exposure and the potential impact. While quantifying the impact could take another two weeks, more incidents can be anticipated, warn cyber security experts.

Sudesh Shetty, partner, Forensics, KPMG in India told Telangana Today, “India has invested on the known dangers. Ransomware and future attacks are unknown. We need to prepare for unanticipated cyber-attacks. Ransomware is altogether a next level risk the nation is facing. At an age when data is wealth, ransomware leaves less or no chance to recover that. One is left with no option than to reboot and face data loss. Not renewing the software licenses is another challenge that we face in our ecosystem.”

When asked if skill is available in the country to nullify impact of such attacks, he said, there is no dearth of talent. “How we channelise and use the talent available is the key. Cyber security is a booming practice. Central government has taken certain measures in the right direction in the past such as checking vulnerability in the power transmission sector. Nasscom has set up a task force to tackle cyber security aspects,” he adds.

India is hit and the nation is believed to be among the top ten affected. This ransomware has become popular and gained enough screen-time. Cyber experts are now worried if there are new variants of ransomware that could impact the world. Most of the reported incidents of WannaCry had been with desktops. If mobile phones are attacked in future, contact lists, financial data and apps could be compromised.


Vulnerability


Telangana Information Technology Association (TITA) president Sundeep Kumar Makthala, said, “The ransomware has impacted client operating systems run on Windows XP, 07, Vista and 08 but not Windows 10 while in the case of server operating systems, desktops using Windows 2003 are affected whereas those run on Windows 2008 and 2012 are not impacted.”

Of the systems affected, those systems that are running on pirated versions of the software are vulnerable. In the government departments, even if one of the systems in the local area network (LAN) is affected, the entire network could be affected. Lack of awareness among the government staff on the need for renewing software licences could make the systems prone to attack. Lack of funds may not be the reason as the license only costs Rs 9,000-Rs 10,000.

Telangana unlike other States, is in a better position in terms of cyber readiness. There is a cyber-security policy in the State. The government has initiated steps to create cyber warriors to tackle such situation. Explaining what creates vulnerability, he said, “People’s actions are responsible for cyber lapses. Systems do not become vulnerable on their own. So, people need to be educated.”

On the sector impact, Makthala said, IT industry be in India or globally is not impacted. Healthcare industry in the UK has been impacted. Financial sector is gearing up to analyse and review the impact and take corrective actions, if any.

“Indian financial sector for that matter has been an early adopter of technology and is usually cyber secured. Disaster recovery operations can happen quick in this space,” he said.
Large scale attacks

“While the spread of the present ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack has slowed due to accidental remedy by a UK-based cyber analyst, concern remains that such attacks could be launched in a much larger scale in the near future as the tools for embarking on ransomware attacks are readily available on the dark web,” says Chakradhar Kommera, co-founder and CEO of Unik, a Hyderabad-based cyber security and threat intelligence company.

It remains to be seen how the WannaCry malware spread so fast across so many organisations worldwide, which highlights the danger of the open communication systems the world over.
According to Unik, the ‘kill switch’ built into WannaCry accidentally helped halt the spread of the ransomware. However, ‘kill switches’ may not necessarily be built into future ransomware attacks, and their impact could be more devastating if the world is unprepared.