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       SCI&TECH Next Article: 2 lakh hit by 'unprecedented' cyberhack in 150 nations:Europol  
       Ransomware threat: Centre activates mechanism to prevent ‘Wannacry’ cyber attack
         Posted on :18:03:52 May 15, 2017
       Last edited on:18:06:52 May 15, 2017
         Tags: Ransomware threat, Centre activates mechanism

The government on Sunday said it has activated a “preparedness and response mechanism” to prevent any major cyber attack from a new ransomware – “Wannacry” – which has infected computer systems around the world. According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), it has activated a “preparedness and response mechanism” by instructing CERT-IN (Computer Emergency Response Team) to gather “all the information of the reported ransomware”. Just a few days ago a global cyber attack was launched using the “WannaCry” ransomware. The malicious software infects a computer and restricts users’ access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock it. On May 13, CERT-IN had issued an advisory for both reactive and preventive actions to deal with the ransomware.

“MeitY has initiated contact with relevant stakeholders in public and private sector to ‘patch’ their systems as prescribed in the advisory issued by CERT-IN. MeitY has also requested Microsoft India to inform all their partners and customers to apply relevant patches,” the ministry said in a statement.

“In India, no reports have been formally received so far regarding this ransomware attack. However, it is understood that a few systems of the police department in Andhra Pradesh were impacted. MeitY has informed AP government, to follow the CERT-In advisory.” As per the Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre), ransomware spreads by using a vulnerability in implementations of “Server Message Block” (SMB) in Windows systems.

The IT ministry has also reached out to key stakeholders like RBI, National Payments Corporation of India, NIC and UIDAI (Aadhaar) to advise them to protect their systems against ‘Wanna Cry’ ransomware to ensure that the digital payments ecosystem in the country is protected, PTI reports.

The ministry has also reached out to the Department of Telecom (DoT) to alert Internet service providers (ISPs) to secure their networks as well as the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) and CDAC to ensure that users across the country, especially those in the private sector, are cautioned about the ransomware.

“The impact has been somewhat contained in India because of the weekend. However, one will have to watch the situation as people return to work tomorrow and access their computers,” Kaspersky Lab Head for South Asia Region Altaf Halde told PTI.

What can you do to prevent infection:

According to Microsoft's Malware Protection Center, here are the steps you should take to protect yourself against ransomware:

- Install and use an up-to-date antivirus solution (such as Microsoft Security Essentials)

- Make sure your software is up-to-date

- Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments or emails from people you don't know or companies you don't do business with

- Ensure you have smart screen (in Internet Explorer) turned on, which helps identify reported phishing and malware websites and helps you make informed decisions about downloads

- Have a pop-up blocker running on your web browser

- Regularly backup your important files

WannaCry 'kill switch'

On Saturday, a cybersecurity researcher told AFP news agency that he had discovered a "kill switch" that can prevent the spread of WannaCry.

The researcher, tweeting as @MalwareTechBlog, said the discovery was accidental, but that registering a domain name used by the malware stops it from spreading.

Unfortunately computers already affected will not be helped by the solution.

@MalwareTechBlog warned that the "crisis isn't over" as those behind it "can always change the code and try again".

"I will confess that I was unaware registering the domain would stop the malware until after I registered it, so initially it was accidental," @MalwareTechBlog tweeted.

"So long as the domain isn't revoked, this particular strain will no longer cause harm, but patch your systems ASAP as they will try again."

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