'Ransomware' hits West Bengal state electricity company, Kerala panchayat office

The 'WannaCry' ransomware has affected India the worst among all Asian countries Photograph:( Reuters )

ANI New Delhi, Delhi, India May 15, 2017, 11.54 AM (IST)

Three days after 'ransomware' hit computers across the world, several computers in West Bengal's power distribution company offices were attacked by 'ransomware'.

Officials from West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL) confirmed the development and said it has been detected at four offices in West Midnapore district affecting computers in four blocks of Belda, Datan, Narayngarh and Keshiyari.

Federal minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters that there was no serious impact on India, with only isolated incidents in parts of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh states, and the government was monitoring the situation.

However, West Bengal power minister Sovandev Chattopadhyay told Reuters that several billing centres of the state's Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL) had been infected by the ransomware worm.

Also Read: WannaCry: What is ransomware and how to protect yourself from it

The 'WannaCry' ransomware is also suspected to have struck Kerala's Wayanad panchayat office. The authorities claim that the files could not be opened and there is a message demanding $300 dollars be put in the account within three days.

Aruna Sundararajan, secretary of India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, told Reuters the government was constantly monitoring the situation and that a few stand-alone computers of a police department were "back in action" after being infected over the weekend.

India's National Informatics Centre, which builds and manages almost all government websites, and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, a premier research institute that has built supercomputers, have actively installed patches to immunise their Windows systems, Sundararajan added.

India's cyber security agency have alerted Internet users against damaging activities of 'WannaCry' which critically infects workstations and locks them through remote access. A hacker sitting in a different country can easily operate on a string of computers, infecting it and easily disabling it.

In India, 'ransomware' is made worse because many computers might still be on Windows XP, for which Microsoft had not issued security updates for some time. However, after the cyber attack, Microsoft issued a security patch to Windows XP to fix the security vulnerability as computers worldwide were affected by the virus.

Meanwhile, in Gujarat, the state government is now upgrading its computer systems with anti-virus software and updating the Microsoft OS as well.

The ransomware virus had struck Britain's national health service(NHS) on Friday evening shutting down computer services in at at least 16 hospitals initially, severely disrupting emergency services which had to be suspended. 

Also Read: Infographic: How big a problem is ransomware?

(WION with Agency inputs)