LUCKNOW: In a first-of-its-kind ransomware attack in the city, cybercriminals breached and blocked the computer system of The Piccadilly, a five-star hotel in the state capital, and demanded a ransom to allow data access. Ransomware is a malware unleashed into the system by a hacker that blocks access to owners till ransom is paid.
The hotel management lodged an FIR with the cyber cell of police and also roped in private cyber detectives to probe the crime and suggest a remedy.
Jitendra Kumar Singh, finance controller of the hotel in Alambagh, lodged an FIR on March 9, stating the staff at the hotel was unable to access the computer system on February 27 around 11:45 pm when they were updating monthly business data. This was followed by screen pop-ups which read — Oops, your important files are encrypted. The staff initially ignored the pop-ups and rebooted the system following which it crashed. Later, the hotel management engaged a software engineer to track down the malfunction after which it came to light the system has been hit by ransomware.
“While the software engineer was trying to retrieve data, a link appeared on the screen which led to a message announcing the system has been blocked and access will be allowed only after paying a ransom. Senders also sent an e-mail id for further communication,” the FIR stated. The data in the system comprise accounting and billing details along with inventory cycle of the hotel from 2018 to February 27, 2019, the FIR said.
Finance controller Jitendra Kumar Singh said police lodged FIR but has not been able to retrieve the data till now. “They are investigating into the matter, but are yet to make any breakthrough,” Singh told TOI. Nodal officer of the cyber cell deputy superintendent of police (DySP) Abhay Mishra said the case happens to be first of its kind of ransomware attack in the city. “We are trying to trace the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the link that claims to have blocked the system and trace those behind the crime,” DySP Misra said.
An independent cyber expert Prateek Dubey said it seems hackers gained access to the system through phishing.
The malware encrypted computer data and locked it. The demand for ransom in such cases are also made through ‘Bitcoin’, he said
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