Train coaches at Lower Parel workshop hit by ransomware attack

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Train coaches at Lower Parel workshop hit by ransomware attack
Train coaches at Lower Parel workshop hit by ransomware attack

Locking and encrypting the victim’s system, data, files, and device, ransomware is a type of malware that makes the system inaccessible as well as unusable until the ransom is paid.

A ransomware attack hit the Automatic Storage Retrieval System (ASRS) at Western Railway’s Lower Parel workshop on December 13, where maintenance of long-distance train coaches is undertaken.

The identity and location of the cyber attacker are yet to be traced, even as the storage system has switched to manual mode since then, with staffers spending hours to locate the 688 types of items, such as spare parts of coaches and bogies and nuts and bolts, in the approximately 1,300 sq. m storage facility.

Locking and encrypting the victim’s system, data, files, and device, ransomware is a type of malware that makes the system inaccessible as well as unusable until the ransom is paid. “Though no specific amount of ransom was demanded by the hacker, a message was found on the server suggesting that it was a cyberattack,” said a senior WR official, adding: “The vendor, who had set the system, is working on restoring it. It is expected to be up and running within a week.”

A workshop staffer, on condition of anonymity, said: “Due to the ransomware attack, WR has to rely on manual operations, which is time-consuming. At the Lower Parel workshop, ASRS stocks around 70% of the total stock items. It has one stacker crane and one transfer car, which move from one aisle to another for storage and retrieval of material. Even the crane has stopped functioning since the cyberattack.”

Without divulging details about the ransomware attack, the WR spokesperson said, “The ASRS at the Lower Parel workshop is facing some technical issues. The storage system has been switched to manual mode, and a team is working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

Established by the erstwhile Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway in 1870, the Lower Parel workshop overhauls 140 long-distance train coaches every month. To reduce the time spent locating and procuring small items from hours to minutes, the ASRS, implemented in 2019, at a cost of Rs 11.5 crore, automated the storage and retrieval of 688 items. Another advantage of ASRS is space optimization, especially in a city like Mumbai. A WR official said, “It can help function at heights, allowing warehouse operators to maximize floor space by making better use of vertical space.”

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