Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Indies Pharma rebuilds database after ransomware attack

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2020 | 12:26 AM
CEO of Indies Pharma Jamaica Limited,
 Dr Guna Muppuri.
CEO of Indies Pharma Jamaica Limited, Dr Guna Muppuri.

Hackers unleashed a ransomware attack on Indies Pharma Jamaica Limited last year in an attempt to extort funds from the company.

The pharmaceutical distributor, in response, rebuilt its database and upgraded its IT security and procedures.

“We never wanted to pay or yield to those blackmailers and scammers,” said Indies Pharma Chairman and CEO Dr Guna Muppuri in response to Financial Gleaner questions about the incident.

Muppuri said that no data was stolen or accessed in the attack.

Indies spent $6 million on the IT upgrades, according to company filings, to bolster its data-recovery platforms through remote storage in addition to physical back-ups on a weekly basis, which are stored off-site.

The database hit by the ransomware contained customer information, but a security measure including passwords set by Indies meant that “not even the ransomware guys could access the data”, Muppuri said.

The attackers encrypted the data, so Indies opted to build a new database.

“Therefore, we had to regenerate the entire data,” he said.

Ransomware is a hack that results in the takeover of websites or databases, with the hacker demanding payment for the return of the intellectual property. The organisations or businesses that come under such attacks tend to factor the cost of losing their data versus the cost of the ransom payment. Compliance can still result in the loss of data regardless of payment. The other approach involves rebuilding the database, with increased security.

At Indies, Muppuri said the ransomware attack did not negatively affect revenue but caused delays in other ways.

“No, it did not affect our sales, but it took a while to generate the statement of accounts that caused delays in receivables, but it is almost 95 per cent back to normal now,” he said. “Thank God and thanks to my efficient team that followed the management instructions to the ‘T’,” he added.

For its 2019 financial year, Indies Pharma made annual net profit of $131 million, up 14 per cent.