Data not hit by ransomware attack, says AP DGP

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The “ransomware” attack which caused a global scare last month had affected computers at over 30 police stations in Andhra Pradesh as the latter were using “pirated software,” DGP N. Sambasiva Rao said.

Mr. Rao, who was in Delhi last week, however, told The Hindu in an interview that not a single bit of data was affected by the ransomware attack and no data was stolen either.

“We were very lucky; the Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems (CCTNS) and the entire data are well protected. TCS is the system administrator. No single bit of data was infected during the attack. The only thing is that in three-four districts, 30-35 computers out of thousands were affected. One of the reasons was they were using pirated software,” Mr. Rao said.

The DGP also said no data was stolen and even if it was “we had the backup.”

“Ransomware worked like this — the available data is encrypted and they asked you to pay a ransom. We didn’t get any ransom messages. Their intention was to demonstrate their reach as they asked for only $30 to $300 in some cases. It’s a big global conspiracy,” he said.

‘Isolated incidents’

Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, were the only two States where “isolated incidents” of Ransomware virus attack were reported last month.

The Computer Emergency Response System-India (CERT-In) had explained that the ransomware called WannaCrypt or WannaCry encrypts the computer’s hard disk drive and then spreads laterally between computers on the same local area network. The ransomware also spreads through malicious attachments in emails.

Mr. Rao said cyber labs were being set up in each district and three high-end cyber labs were coming up at Vijaywada, Vishakhapatnam and Tirupati as the number of cases of cyber crime has gone up exponentially.

Maoist challenge

Mr. Rao, who attended a meeting at North Block to undertake coordinated operations in four Maoist affected States — Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra and Chattisgarh — said that “Maoists were taking advantage of border areas as the administration there was lean.”

He said that it was difficult to track the movement of the top leadership of the Maoists, including the Central Committee members, as “they moved secretly and [it was] not easy for anyone to know. They don’t use cell phones and their communication mechanism was different,” he said.

He said though the central armed police forces (CAPF) were deployed in these areas, it was the job of the local police to lead operations. “CAPFs are ready to help but they have their own limitations. It is the job of the local police, which must lead the operations. We suffered and we learnt. I don’t want other States to suffer,” he said. In April this year, 25 CRPF personnel were killed by Maoists while they provided security to a road construction party at Burkapal in Sukma district of Chattisgarh.