24 September, 2020

The Data Kidnappers

In the age of digitisation and connectivity, a new form of extortion has arisen: ransomware

Photograph by Alamy
The Data Kidnappers

Over the past few months, org­a­nisations across the world have been targeted by a new form of cyberterrorism—ransomware. In a ransomware att­ack, the victim’s computer or network is locked and its data encryp­ted by hackers, who then demand money to rel­ease these back to their owners. While such ­assaults began as early as 2013, the last four months have seen repeated incidents all over the world.

In May, an attack using a new ransomware ‘cryptoworm’ called Wannacry brought many businesses in Europe to a standstill. This affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, badly hitting the Spanish telecom service provider Telefonica, the German state railways and the NHS, among others. Similarly. a new variant of the ­ransomware Petya, which caused a great deal of distress in Europe last year, surfaced in June. This time, the impact was closer to home as some systems in India were hit by the attack; this inc­luded the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, whose terminals came to a halt. Later, in September, systems...



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