NEW DELHI - Trying to instil confidence among people, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said the ongoing cyber attack by ransomware virus 'WannaCrypt' had nearly zero impact in India. "We are strengthening our cyber security. After talking to Microsoft, we had asked people to install patch system in March. This ongoing attack not only had minimum, but nearly zero per cent impact, in India.
We are strengthening our areas," the minister told India TV in Hindi at its conclave "Samvaad". On March 14 this year, Microsoft released a security update which addressed the vulnerability in the 16-year-old Windows XP operating system that the hackers behind the massive ransomware attack exploited and created havoc in 150 countries. After infecting over two lakh computers in several countries, the global virus attack continued for the third day on Monday, with more reports of hacking pouring in from India, China and Japan as offices re-opened after a tumultuous weekend. The ransomware locks up the computer with the group which carried out the attack asking for $300 payment in bitcoins to send an unlock key. The virus attacks the system after a person, whose computer has not been protected, opens up an unsuspecting mail, often from people known to him or her. In Kerala, computers of two village panchayats were hit, with messages demanding $300 in virtual currency to unlock the files. Officials who opened the computer at the Thariyode panchayat office in the hilly district of Wayanad found that four of their computers had been hacked.Likewise, another village panchayat at Aruvapulam near Konni in Pathanamthitta district got a similar virus message when their computer was switched on. IT experts were working on these systems. In West Bengal's West Midnapore district, at least eight computers of the state-run electricity distributor were affected. Experts were ascertaining whether it was the same malware virus behind the world's biggest ransomware attack. The government on Sunday said it has activated a "preparedness and response mechanism" to prevent any major cyber damage from the ransomware. 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". "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. On May 13, CERT-IN had issued an advisory for both reactive and preventive actions to deal with the ransomware.