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In Indonesia, crippling immigration ransomware breach sparks privacy crisis

In a rare admission, Indonesian authorities revealed that last week’s catastrophic collapse of the country’s immigration system was caused by hackers using new ransomware to attack a critical data centre.

The hackers being the attack had issued a US$8 million ransom demand to return control of the servers to the Indonesian government, but communications and informatics minister Budi Arie Setiadi vowed “we will never pay”.

His ministry confirmed that the attacks had disrupted services at 210 state institutions nationwide – though they declined to name the affected organisations.

Ariandi Putra, spokesman for the National Cyber and Crypto Agency, or BSSN, said in a statement on Tuesday that the attack was first detected on June 17 when the agency received a notification about “attempts to shut down Windows Defender” – pre-installed security software that helps identify viruses, spyware, and other malware.

On Monday, BSSN head Hinsa Siburian admitted that Indonesians’ personal data “has been decrypted [by the hackers], so they’re actually not safe”.

Indonesia’s immigration system and other public services became paralysed on Thursday morning by the cyberattacks on the Temporary National Data Centre facility in Surabaya.

“The immigration system is still down, a timely reminder why I will probably go mad if I have to deal with the Indonesian government on all aspects of my life,” X user Septian Hartono said on Friday.

By Monday, the system was gradually being restored, according to Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly who said data was being moved to cloud storage run by Amazon Web Services. “We were forced to migrate [the data to] AWS. This is an emergency solution as we are waiting for the restoration of the [National