Excerpt from HindustanTimes Article, Published on Mar 18, 2024

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has launched an investigation into a cyber terrorist attack on the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), India’s premier aerospace research institution. The attack, which occurred on November 15 last year, targeted NAL with ransomware, prompting the NIA to register a case and delve into the matter as a cyber terrorism incident.

NAL, affiliated with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and based in Bengaluru, faced data theft by a hacker group known as LockBit. The stolen data, including classified information, was threatened to be published unless an unspecified ransom was paid.

NIA officials, speaking anonymously, confirmed the initiation of the case, highlighting the agency’s focus on cyber terrorism. Specialized units within the NIA are dedicated to investigating cyber attacks on both government and private entities, bolstering India’s cybersecurity measures. Lock Bit, identified as one of the world’s most notorious cyber crime enterprises, has a history of targeting institutions worldwide for monetary gain through ransomware attacks. Information security experts underline the frequency of such attacks on Indian establishments and the serious repercussions they entail.

Originally emerging as ABCD in 2019, LockBit has since evolved into a prominent player in the ransomware-as-a-service landscape, targeting various sectors including businesses, schools, medical facilities, and government establishments globally. In response to the escalating threat posed by cyber criminal groups like LockBit, international cooperation efforts have intensified. The US Department of Justice, in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, recently announced measures to disrupt Lock Bit’s operations, citing its extensive ransom demands and substantial financial gains.

The investigation into the cyberattack on NAL underscores the growing significance of cybersecurity in safeguarding critical infrastructure and sensitive information. As authorities work to mitigate the fallout of such attacks, concerted efforts are underway to bolster defenses and combat cyber threats effectively.

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