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Power network survives Kamasutra virus assault

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Isolation of computers prevents major system crash

CLOSE SHAVE: A power station
CLOSE SHAVE: A power station

Anil Sasi

Precautionary measures


There should

not be any connectivity of the constituent system with the Internet without adequate precautionary firewalls in place.

Use of

floppies and pen drives has been banned in the Windows-based computers in the ULDC system.

Need for

Cyber Security audit of ULDC system was also brought up.

New Delhi, Aug. 28

The Indian power network has survived a close brush with `Kamasutra', another name for computer virus `W32.Blackmal' that attacks Windows-based systems.

The virus attack, which was observed recently on some computers in the Unified Load Dispatch & Communication (ULDC) system of the Northern Region, was detected early and isolating the affected computers from the network contained a potential system crash.

In response, constituents of the Northern Region have now initiated immediate steps to mitigate such type of attacks, Government officials involved in the exercise said. At a meeting of the Northern Region Electricity Board earlier this month, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd circulated a note regarding the `W32.Blackmal' virus for the benefit of other members of the grid.

Awareness note

A detailed paper on the virus was subsequently circulated and it was decided by the Northern Grid members that there should not be any connectivity of the constituent system with the Internet without adequate precautionary firewalls in place.

Also, the use of floppies and pen drives has been banned in the Windows-based computers in the ULDC system and all the constituents have been sounded out on the need to make efforts to have virus-free environment at their respective installations.

Following the virus scare, the need for Cyber Security audit of ULDC system was also brought up by members and it was unanimously agreed to by all the constituents that the computers of SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system should not be connected to Internet.

According to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), the virus, which is known around the world through various names such as `Nyxem', `Blackmal', `GREW' and `Kamasutra', generally surfaces as a memory resident mass mailing worm and attacks Microsoft Windows systems.

Since a number of computer systems forming part of the Grid monitoring system are based on Windows, there were serious apprehensions of a crash if the attack had not been detected in time, officials said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 29, 2006)
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