Akira Ransomware [UPSC Notes]

In July 2023, CERT-In issued an advisory warning organisations and individuals of the emergence of a ransomware named ‘Akira’. What is Akira Ransomware? How harmful is it and how does one protect against it? These issues are addressed in this article. Also, this topic is very important for the UPSC exam science and technology as well as information technology segments.

What is Akira Ransomware?

The Akira Ransomware targets computers that operate on Windows and Linux operating systems to steal personal information.

  • The ransomware steals personal data, encrypts it and then demands ransom from the victims. If the victims of the cyber fraud refuse to pay the money, they are threatened with exposure of their personal data on the dark web.
  • Ransomware is basically malware, that is, software that gains unauthorized access to systems and steals data.
  • The Akira family of ransomware was first used by cyber criminals in March 2023 in the US and Canada.
    • Previously, in 2017, a different Akira ransomware was flagged by Microsoft Defender Antivirus.
  • Most of the victims of the Akira ransomware are US citizens.
  • It uses a double-extortion technique to exfiltrate and encrypt data.
  • The ransomware has affected more than 60 organisations, most of which are small- and medium-scale businesses.
  • Akira has affected systems in different domains including finance, education, real estate, consulting, etc.

How Does Akira Work?

The ransomware exfiltrates data from hacked networks, then triggers encryption, after which it posts the ransom demand. 

  • It encrypts data file types and adds a ‘.akira’ extension to them.
  • It drops a ransom note in each of the encrypted file.
  • Curiously, the hackers also offer a security report upon payment wherein they reveal weaknesses in the system which enabled them to steal the data.
  • Apart from the loss of valuable data, organisations also risk losing their reputation and integrity.
  • The sensitive data sold on the dark web can be misused.
  • Organisations can suffer huge financial losses apart from disrupted operations.

How to protect against Akira Ransomware?

Users of computer systems need to regularly update their cybersecurity practices. 

  • Conduct regular backup practices.
  • Secure backup offline or on other networks.
  • Turn up automatic software updates.
  • Refrain from opening suspicious links, and email attachments without checking their authenticity.

Akira Ransomware [UPSC Notes]:- Download PDF Here

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