India has been the worst hit in the Asia Pacific region by the ‘Petya’ ransomware that has claimed thousands of victims globally, security software firm Symantec today said. Globally, India ranked as the seventh most impacted nation. Ukraine, the US and Russia were among the worst hit by Petya that struck organisations across the world earlier this week. Other countries that were impacted included France, the UK, Germany, China and Japan. This is the second time in two months that hackers have tried to hold computers at ransom, threatening to wipe out critical data unless the users paid up. In May, ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack affected systems in over 100 countries.
Once infected by the ransomware, the systems are locked and a demand of USD 300 in Bitcoins is made to recover the files. However, it is not clear whether the systems are decrypted after the payment is made. Some of the biggest corporations including Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft, Ukraine’s international airport, shipping firm AP Moller-Maersk, and advertising giant WPP have come under the latest attack. In India, one of the terminals at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) was impacted, while there was partial disruption of operations at private port operator, APM Terminals Pipavav.
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The Indian government has already sent out advisories to critical infrastructure agencies and is keeping a close vigil on the situation. Security firms have warned that ‘Petya’ could be particularly potent as it uses “multiple techniques” to automatically spread in a network soon after the first system is infected. They have advised companies to update their Windows software, check their security solutions and ensure they have back up and ransomware detection in place. They have also advised users to refrain from clicking on suspicious emails and regularly update the security patches on their PCs.