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Newsmen Bureau

Kolkata, 15 May: THE global horror of ransomware cyber-attack has reached West Bengal with computers in several offices of the state owned power distribution company having been hacked in as many as two districts so far.

The districts that have reported the ransomware attack are West Midnapore, and South Dinajpur. The worry is that the attack is spreading to new districts within the passage of hours.

The cyber-attack was first discovered today morning in West Midnapore’s Belda divisional office of the West Bengal Power Distribution Company Ltd.

On switching on two computers today morning that have Internet connections, the employees were shocked to find a full-screen message captioned: “Oops, your files have been encrypted” and demanding an online payment of 300 US dollars in Bitcoin,which happens to be a cryptocurrency. A six-hour deadline was served for making the payment.

Despite repeated efforts, the employees could not access the files stored in the matter. As the day progressed, similar incidents were reported from other offices of the power distribution company located under Belda division such as Narayngarh, Keshiari, and Dantan. This made the power company authorities report the matter to police.

By afternoon, West Bengal Power Distribution Company Ltd’s divisional office at Balurghat in South Dinajpur reported similar ransomware cyber-attack. Three computers in the office threw up the attack message and became unusable. In this case too, the computers were linked to the Internet.

The ransomware attack has affected routine jobs such as generation of power bills, receipt of payment, and has also made the record files out of reach in the power company’s offices in South Dinajpur and West Midnapore

State power minister Shobhandeb Chattopadhyay has, however, said that the centralised server of the power company was intact. “All routine functions such as bill receipts, complaints registration, etc. are going on as usual all over the state. But we are taking precautions,” he said.

Central government has started sending e-mail from MyGov portal to individual users at random alerting that a new ransomware named as “Wannacry” was spreading fast.

“Wannacry encrypts the files on infected Windows systems. This ransomware spreads by exploiting vulnerable Windows Systems,” the e-mail reads advising people to take adequate precautions like not clicking .exe. .rar files received on e-mails and not visiting unscrupulous websites.