’Ransomware’ attack on websites of A.P., TS power utilities

Hackers may be in possession of data base of two crore power consumers

May 03, 2019 12:18 am | Updated 07:59 am IST - HYDERABAD

Photo for representation.

Photo for representation.

A day ahead of the safety week observed by power utilities from May 1 to 7, the websites of two power distribution companies each of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were hacked which resulted in their computer-based applications coming to a standstill for over three days.

It was on Tuesday evening that the websites were hacked of southern and northern power distribution companies of Telangana at Hyderabad and Warangal respectively and southern and eastern power distribution companies of Andhra Pradesh at Tirupati and Visakhapatnam respectively.

All of them were maintained by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in Hyderabad, sources said. The chairman and managing director of transmission and generation corporations of Telangana D. Prabhakar Rao said the entire computerised data of power utilities was safe as it had a backup mechanism. Except payments made by the corporations by ATM mode, their routine functions remained unaffected.

Meanwhile, TCS was on the job to restore functioning of the websites and recover the stolen data on Thursday evening. The officials of Southern Power Distribution Company lodged a complaint with Cyber Crime Police Station in Hyderabad that its website was frozen by culprits by Ransomware virus with the aim to pilfering data from the server.

Sources added that the hackers were in possession of data base of two crore power consumers in the two States. A number of files were also damaged in the process. As the websites did not open, the online payments by power consumers were affected. However, the bill payments by consumers at Electricity Revenue Offices and Mee-Seva were unaffected.

The officials prima facie suspect that the hackers of Air India and Andhra Bank websites in the past may have resorted to the act to access information about online payments to power utilities.

They also suspected that the hackers might have targeted information about payments by distribution companies in Telangana and AP which are to the tune of ₹30,000 crore per annum. They did not rule out attempts by hackers to divert the funds. They tried to detect the originating point of hacking.

It was said that the ethical hackers had warned about the vulnerability of the websites of power utilities to hacking with criminal intent. There was no damage to the websites of transmission and generation corporations of Telangana.

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