Cybersecurity tightened amid threat from Petya ransomware



THAILAND has heightened its cybersecurity to cope with potential damage from Petya ransomware that crippled some computer facilities in several Western countries.

As of Wednesday night, there had been no reports of Thai state agencies or private enterprises being affected by Petya, said Surangkana Wayuparb, executive director and chief executive officer of Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA). The agency operates Thailand Computer Emergency Response Team (ThaiCERT) which is spearheading the improved security.

Regardless, the agency urged everyone involved in cybersecurity to take precautions, especially those responsible for the country’s critical infrastructure such as electricity, transport, healthcare, banking and finance, as well as national security operations.

As a result of earlier threats from a similar malicious software known as Wannacry, Thai authorities are now more alert and will be able to respond to threats in a timely manner. Surangkana said ThaiCERT was in contact with agencies responsible for critical infrastructures immediately after reports of a massive global ransomware attack on Tuesday night.

International experts said Petya is more sophisticated than Wannacry, prompting many companies in the West to shut down their computer systems. Among victims of Petya are Mondelez, the producer of Oreos, and WPP, a major UK advertising firm. The affected companies were forced to pay ransom in digital currency such as Bitcoin.

Thailand is in the process of setting up a national cybersecurity agency.

Surangkana said the new agency should be operational soon since more malware and ransomware programmes will become more common due to the widespread use of Internet as well as the rising number of Internet of Things (IOT) devices and the migration of computing facilities to the cloud service. Earlier users of new Microsoft versions such as Windows 10 were not attacked by Wannacry but older versions were.

Pichet Durongkaveroj, Minister of Digital Economy and Society, said that Thailand’s cybersecurity had improved based on the International Telecom Union (ITU)’s latest Global Cybersecurity Index, with the country ranked 15th out of 196 nations. It was preceded by Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong said that cyberthreats are constantly growing more challenging and sophisticated. The Defence Ministry has also adopted defensive and offensive measures to cope with cyberthreats, while the Metropolitan Electricity Authority said the agency had been working with ThaiCERT and closely monitoring the situation to guard power supply.


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