DailyPost 1719


A ransomed world means you or some part of you or the product or service you require, data or even your freedom is held hostage for a price. A price not commensurate with the product or service in question. Its availability and mode of procurement being another challenge. The sourcing is illegal and so the persons practicing it and the unfortunate part is they are not called criminals. Today the physical hostage is the least heard of and the maximum in news are ransomware attacks which hold data as hostage. In between we have seen the most demeaning variant of ransom in the Second Surge of the pandemic; of oxygen, of hospital beds, of essential drugs and anything connected to COVID-19 treatment or even death at the end of it. This is called the black marketeering of the worst variety.

Was it not a ransom? Was life not held hostage in a variety of ways. Very rarely anybody got caught in this crime against humanity, which this nature of black marketeering was. The definition of crime, trial and punishment needs to take a quantum leap. Death by conventional methods is murder, rest are a passe. Law without enforcement can only adorn the National Law Schools. While we have got back to our daily political rigamarole of  battle of political personas, the epitome of management – election management and assuaging bruised feelings, the world is in for another battle. Our digital world is of WhatsApp and putting a legal noose on social media platforms.

Ransomware, a crime which means gaining access to your computer systems and putting the legal owner out of access. Data is held hostage. Ransomware is the deadliest crime of the day, increasing at a phenomenal pace, and impacting every single industry and governments as well. In the same way as the black marketeers, the hackers are broadly known, but  nothing can be done to them. The archaic laws and the inability of the law and world to understand the dirty underbelly of technology  is the problem. Starting with local self-governments in the US paying ransom two years back, now it is staring at the corporates faces and winning hands down.

Colonial Pipeline, largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the US, paid $5 million as ransom, in an attack that created havoc.  Now the latest news is that JBS paid US 11 million to the hackers. Brazilian JBS is the world’s largest meat processing company. Its operations were hacked and disrupted by ”one of the most specialized and sophisticated cybercriminal groups in the world.” What a way to defend ransom payment? JBS operations were temporarily impacted in Australia, Canada and the US. Private companies are left to fend for themselves in hacks which are crimes against the state. The FBI also confirms the sophistication of the crime. IT behemoths including social media companies on the one side are mocking at  governments and hackers at the other end are forcibly extracting their pound of flesh. What is the future of governments in the Digital World is a billion dollar question.


Sanjay Sahay


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