Airports, Student Aid Services Struck by Indonesian Cyber Attack

(Bloomberg) -- Indonesia’s parliament called the government to task over another cyber attack that led to airport and scholarship services being put out of service.

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The ransomware attack that affected hundreds of ministries and public institutions was “catastrophic,” said lawmaker Tubagus Hasanuddin in a Thursday evening hearing with the communications minister and the head of state cybersecurity agency.

Immigration services were taken down for days and have yet to return to normal, while scholarship registration websites for about a million students were rendered inaccessible. Only about 2% of the data have been salvaged, and the recovery process will only be completed in mid-August, said Communications Minister Budi Arie Setiadi.

The government has decided against paying the $8 million ransom demanded by Russian-linked hacker group LockBit 3.0 that said they have the data.

This is the latest reported breach in Indonesia following at least 113 cases of personal data leaks in the last two years, according to digital rights group SAFEnet. Earlier, 15 million customers at a local bank saw their data leaked and an alleged SIM card hack revealed data from 105 million people. This time, a national data center has been affected, triggering a crisis of confidence in Indonesia’s ability to protect its citizens’ information.

Thousands of people signed a petition calling for Setiadi to step down, before the post was taken down.

Public officials took to pointing fingers at each other in the parliament hearing. The head of the cybersecurity agency said they haven’t confirmed whether the data was leaked, while criticizing the communications ministry for not preparing backup data as a precaution. In response, Setiadi said each government agency should have their own backups in place instead of relying on his ministry.

“This is not a governance issue, it’s a stupidity issue to have national data without a single backup,” said Meutya Hafid, chair of the commission that held the hearing. She referred to a government statement that said only 43 agencies have backup data.

Ransomware refers to a type of software code that hackers use to encrypt a victim’s computer files, which can have a ripple effect if it attacks a major financial sector. Not long ago, Evolve Bank & Trust confirmed it had fallen victim to a cyberattack. A few days earlier, LockBit 3.0 claimed to have hacked the US Federal Reserve.

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