Cyber-attacks that shook Indian firms in 2022: Critical infra, healthcare most targeted

A throwback on some of the high-profile cyber-attacks of this year

Before we start speculating on how bad cyber threats are going to get next year, let’s look at some of the worst cyber attacks this year. In 2022, hackers kept going after Indian businesses of all sizes and in all industries.

Healthcare held to ransom

AIIMS: The attack on the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) came to light on November 23. The attack could have exposed around 40 million patient data.

Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi reported that it was also hit by a cyber attack in November. However, no data was compromised.

Hong Kong-based attackers tried to hack the website of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) early December. Hackers attacked the ICMR website around 6000 times in 24 hours but failed.

During the same period, personal details of around 1.5 lakh patients of a Tirupur-based hospital in Tamil Nadu, were put out for sale by cyber hackers on Telegram.

Impact: The attack is a wakeup call for all hospitals in the country. CyberPeace Foundation and Autobot Infosec released a report that revealed that the Indian healthcare industry faced 1.9 million cyberattacks till November 28, this year.

Also read: Geopolitics to fuel future cyberattacks

Critical infrastructure under threat

CDSL: In November, India’s second-largest depository, Central Depository Services Limited (CDSL) detected a malware attack on few of its systems.

Oil India: A major cyber attack hit state-run Oil India Ltd. on 13th April. The attack targeted  the company’s Assam facility’s information technology (IT) systems. Media reports claimed that hackers demanded $7.5 million from the oil producer.

SpiceJet: In June, Indian airline operator SpiceJet cancelled many of its flights after being targeted by an attempted ransomware attack. SpiceJet was forced to suspend flights, thar resulted in delays and cancellations.

Tata Power: In October, power generation company Tata Power reported a cyber attack. The attack was made on its technology infrastructure. The Hive ransomware group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Recorded Future, an American cybersecurity found that Chinese state-sponsored hackers had targeted India’s power grids in Ladakh. In July this year, cyber attackers hit the flood monitoring system in Goa. The ransomware attack prevented the ability to back up data, with attackers demanding Bitcoin in return for decryption of data.

Impact: There has been significant rise in cyber attacks on India’s critical infrastructure over the last few years. The cybersecurity threats posed to the systems that control and operate the critical infrastructure on which we all depend are among the most significant and growing issues confronting our Nation. The degradation, destruction, or malfunction of systems that control this infrastructure could cause significant harm to the national and economic security of India.

Pharma not immune to cyber attacks

IPCA Laboratories: In September, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in India, IPCS was hit by a cybercrime and extortion group called RansomHouse. The group claimed to have stolen 500 gigabytes of data from its systems.

Aarti Drugs Ltd.: Following the ransomware attack on IPCA, another public-listed Indian pharmaceutical major, Aarti Drugs suffered a data leak after the BianLian ransomware group posted its confidential information on a dark web forum.

ET Insights Opinion:

Cyber threats represent a systemic risk that poses a threat to national security, the economy, mission-critical infrastructures, and companies. There are many lessons to take forward from this list of cyber attacks in 2022.

Hackers are always on the lookout for basic security flaws. It is extremely essential  that enterprises have robust detection and response capabilities that can detect and prevent data leakage.

As a country, India will need to redefine the definition of its critical infrastructures in the context of cyber space. To protect any company or institution, it is essential that we know the value of these companies, and what will it mean if they crumble to a cyber attack.

Also read: State-sponsored threat actors target 128 govt. organizations in 42 countries

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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