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Exploring cyber blackmail attack issues

The Daily Telegraph has reported that Nokia “was allegedly blackmailed into paying cyber criminals millions of euros over threats to hijack its smartphone operating system.” The apparently successful hijacking happened because the attackers “gained access to the company's encryption key for its Symbian system.”

While it has not been confirmed that Nokia made a payment to the hijackers it would certainly not be the first time that a company has been the victim of cyber-based extortion attempts, so what are the issues that organizations should consider when deciding whether to pay a ransom fee or not?

Jon French, Senior Security Analyst at AppRiver comments:

“Paying can only further show other hackers that they have a chance of making a lot of money from these corporations. If the reports are true, Nokia seems to have been lucky that the hacker didn’t release the key anyway. Once they have the cash, there can sometimes be nothing to lose for them at that point. However, this choice plays in to the whole ransom situation. The hacker has an incentive to keep their side of the bargain: releasing the key anyway would shoot the ransom scheme in the foot and would reduce the chances of future hijackings being successful.

“If the hacker had gone back on their word and released the key regardless, it would be a well learned lesson to never trust a ransomer and never pay in the future.

“Giving in to ransoms can potentially stop something bad from happening to you or your company, but in the long run it’s just encouraging more ransoms to occur.”

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•Date: 19th June 2014 • World •Type: Article • Topic: ISM

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