In a first-of-its-kind ransomware attack in Lucknow, cybercriminals breached and blocked the computer system of The Piccadily, a five-star hotel in the capital of Uttar Pradesh, 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.
The hotel’s finance controller in Alambagh, Jitendra Kumar Singh, 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.
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. The demand for ransom in such cases are also made through ‘Bitcoin’, he said. “They are investigating into the matter, but are yet to make any breakthrough,” Singh told TOI. The staff initially ignored the pop-ups and rebooted the system following which it crashed.
The cyber cell of Lucknow police believes the ransomware attack could have been made from London. Sleuths of the cyber cell made these claims after authorities of the Piccadily said they had been getting frequent phone calls from London-based number after the attack.
Singh said, “We received for calls from the same number a day after the attack. The callers inquired about the ransomware attack and asked about the progress in the case. Later, they also agreed to offer assistance.”