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120-odd Gujarat government computers hit by the WannaCry ransomware

Tarun Mittal
16th May 2017
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Around 120 computers in various departments linked to the Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN) fell victim to the WannaCry ransomware cyberattack on Monday, with officials reporting no loss of 'valuable' data.

The WannaCry ransomware, which has crippled myriad private businesses and government agencies around the world over the past few days, on Monday infected around 120 computers in multiple departments of the Gujarat government.

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“As per our information, so far, the virus has affected around 120 computers in different government departments linked to the Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN),” said Dhananjay Dwivedi, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology. However, the affected computers did not compromise any valuable data or information, Dwivedi added.

The GSWAN system is the IT backbone of the Gujarat government, with 3,200 government offices across the state’s 33 districts using 60,000 computers to connect to it. The cyberattack was discovered when government officials rebooted the system on Monday morning, following which all working computers were immediately shut down as a precautionary measure, thereby bringing work in multiple agencies to a standstill.

Several computers at the Vadodara district administration offices were affected by the debilitating cyberattack. District collector P. Barathi said the administration was working to prevent the spread of the virus. “We are installing the anti-virus, and have received support from the state science and technology team, which discussed the issue with us,” Bharathi told The Indian Express.

Six computers at the Mehsana district collectorate and at least three at the Jamnagar Regional Transport Office also fell victim to the ransomware, Press Trust of India reported. “All computers have been shut down after the attack was reported in some of them. These were the computers operating independently, and there is no data loss as such due to the attack,” said Alok Pandey, Mehsana collector.

The infected systems display a message saying the data stored on them has been encrypted and that the user has to a pay a ransom through untraceable Bitcoins to access it.

Meanwhile, Gujarat’s State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) has issued directions to police stations and the public as part of precautionary measures to prevent further instances of the attack.

“We have sought reports from police stations on what kind of problem they have faced with their computers with regards to data. We will analyse the report and take corrective actions accordingly,” said SCRB superintendent Ashok Kumar.

There are no reported cases of the ransomware affecting any private IT companies in the state. However, several ATMs across the state have been shut down as a precautionary measure.

The WannaCry ransomware is responsible for the most debilitating cyberattack in history, having spread to over two lakh systems across 150 countries. India is among the most vulnerable to the malware partly due to the widespread use of Microsoft Windows XP—the most at-risk operating system—in the country, as also due to large-scale use of pirated software

Apart from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh has also felt the effects of the malware attack, with police computers in 18 state districts being infected. Despite this, the consensus from the country's cybersecurity experts is that the malware has failed to cause any significant damage.

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