Indonesia: Devastating Attack on country’s data centers

JAKARTA – In a decisive response to the recent ransomware attack that left Indonesia’s digital infrastructure in disarray, President Joko Widodo has mandated a thorough audit of all government data centers. The cyberattack, which is being described as the most severe in the nation’s recent history, resulted in significant disruptions across various government services, including immigration and airport operations.

The audit directive came after revelations that a substantial portion of the compromised data was not backed up, highlighting a critical vulnerability in the country’s cybersecurity measures.

The attack, which occurred last week, affected more than 230 public agencies, including ministries, and brought to light the stark reality of Indonesia’s preparedness against cyber threats. The government’s refusal to acquiesce to the attackers’ demand for an $8 million ransom to unlock the encrypted data underscores the gravity of the situation and the need for a robust strategy to safeguard sensitive information.

President Widodo’s order for an audit aims to address the governance and financial aspects of data management within the country’s data centers. This move is seen as a step towards reinforcing the nation’s cyber defenses and ensuring that such a breach of security does not recur. The audit will be conducted by Indonesia’s state auditor and is expected to shed light on the systemic issues that allowed the cyberattack to have such a widespread impact.

The lack of data backups in one of the two primary data centers compromised by the attack has been a focal point of concern. Officials from Indonesia’s cybersecurity agency, BSSN, reported that 98% of the government data stored there was not backed up, a lapse that has been sharply criticized by both the public and lawmakers. The communications minister, Budi Arie Setiadi, has faced calls for resignation over the incident, with advocacy groups citing repeated failures to protect against cyberattacks.

As Indonesia grapples with the aftermath of the attack, the government has emphasized its commitment to not only recover from the current crisis but also to prevent future incidents. Measures such as mandatory data backups for government agencies are being considered to fortify the nation’s digital infrastructure. The restoration of government services is ongoing, with a target for full recovery set for August.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the ever-present threat of cyberattacks and the importance of proactive measures to protect national data. Indonesia’s experience highlights the need for continuous evaluation and improvement of cybersecurity protocols to defend against the sophisticated tactics employed by cybercriminals. The outcome of the audit and the subsequent actions taken by the government will be closely watched by the international community as a benchmark for cybersecurity resilience. (zai)