Department of Water Resources website hacked

Jul 08, 2022 | 06:11 IST

Department of Water Resources website hacked

The attack took place on June 21 between 00:00 and 02:00; Lost real-time flood monitoring data; Hackers demand ransom in Bitcoin; Experts arrive from Hyderabad to assist police

Team Herald

PANJIM: The Water Resources Department (WRD) was hit by a major cyberattack that compromised the servers that stored data on flood monitoring stations. The unknown hackers demanded a ransom of bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, in exchange for decrypting the WRD data.

As a result, the department also lost access to real-time data of rivers currently flowing in spate due to vigorous monsoon activity across the state.

In its complaint to the Goa Police Cyber ​​Crime Cell, the department states that all of its files have been encrypted and are no longer accessible.

“The server was attacked by ransomware. All files are encrypted with an “eking extension” and cannot be accessed. In a popup and stored file, the attackers demanded bitcoins in exchange for decrypting the data. The attack was perpetrated on June 21, 2022, between 00:00 and 02:00. Data integrity has been compromised, making it impossible to back up previous data. The server works 24/7 on the internet line. The attack was easy, due to the absence of outdated antivirus and firewalls,” reads the complaint filed by Executive Engineer Sunil Karmarkar.

As Cyber ​​Cell has launched an investigation into the complaint, experts from ASTRA Microwave Products limited, Hyderabad, the organization which operates the servers, are said to have arrived in Goa to assist in the police investigation.

Sources said data from the flood monitoring system, automated rain gauges and weather gauges are stored on the server.

“The Panjim data center server stored data from the flood monitoring system at 15 locations on major rivers in Goa, to monitor flood levels in the rivers as part of disaster preparedness and management . As a result of the hack, the service can no longer access its data relating to the battery voltages of the various stations, the data packets related to 12 stations, has lost all its old data which can no longer be saved locally, and has also lost real-time data on rivers currently in flood due to vigorous monsoon activity underway across the state,” the complaint reads.

“The Cyber ​​Cell registered an FIR under the relevant sections of Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act shortly after completing its preliminary investigation. ‘ASTRA will also assist the police in this matter,’ a WRD official told the Herald.

It’s not known if the affected system is disabled, but investigators said the breach is serious.

The complaint filed on June 24 fell into the public domain on Thursday.

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