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A highly virulent ransomware cyberattack which has spread through the US and Europe has now affected operations at one of the three terminals of Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT), the largest container port in India.

Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk, which also reported disruptions in Los Angeles, operates the Gateway Terminals India (GTI) at JNPT which has a capacity to handle 1.8 million standard container units.

“We have been informed that the operations at GTI have come to a standstill because their systems are down (due to the malware attack).They are trying to work manually,” a senior JNPT official told PTI.

According to reports, a new ransomware virus called “Petya” hit 17 Hague-based APM Terminals, a subsidiary of Maersk and caused serious disruption at large firms including the advertising giant WPP and Russian steel and oil firms Evraz and Rosneft.

“We can confirm that Maersk’s IT systems are down across multiple geographies and business units due to a cyber-attack. We continue to assess the situation. The safety of our employees, our operation and our customers’ businesses is our top priority. We will update when we have more information,” said an APM spokesperson in a written statement issued globally and refused to comment on the India impact of the attack.

“It has been informed by the private terminal operator (AP Moller-Maersk) that this disruption is a consequence of a worldwide disruption being faced by them because of a cyber attack,” the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement on Wednesday.

A senior official was quoted by The Hindustan Times as saying, “Had this problem occurred a few months earlier, there would have been severe traffic congestions both inside and outside the port by now. But the scenario has changed over the past few months. Still, if the officials cannot tackle the situation efficiently, there might be snarls of containers by evening.”

“The trade activity at JNPT has been reduced to a great extent over the past five to six months. There are various reasons behind it and Goods and Service Tax (GST) is one of them,” the official added.

The ransomware attack was first reported in Ukraine, where the government, banks and Kiev’s airport and metro system were all affected, hindering operations and forcing employees to work manually.

An AFP report quoting the Ukrainian media company said its computers were blocked and received a demand for Bitcoin ransom worth $300. However, an e-mail address, where victims were asked to send confirmation of payment has been shut down by the email provider.

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