Welcome to the world of e-extortion! Heard it right. Extortion through internet is the latest fad among the hackers. Ever increasing use of internet with focus gradually shifting to e-management, e-administration and e-governance etc in India is giving dubious opportunity to these e-extortionists. Preferably known as black hats among the hackers’ community, they have begun seeking ransom in lieu of the all-important data they grab control of.
These black hats encrypt the data of big banks and multinationals and then demand ransom from them. After getting the extortion amount they make correction in the encrypted data and return it to the company.
UP Special Task Force is working on one such complaint filed with it though from another state. A senior STF official privy to the ongoing investigation told TosNews that cases have been reported where hackers have targeted banks and multinational pharmaceutical companies. After hacking the company’s main server, the e-extortionist encrypt the data and lock the files. There have been cases where data have been stolen also.
ASP STF Triveni Singh told TosNews that extortion cases by hackers or black hats in banks and multinational companies have been reported. Interestingly, instead of dealing in hard currency, these e-extortionists prefer transaction in bitcoin, he said and added that a few cases are up for investigation with UP STF.
The value of ‘bitcoin’ is evaluated in lacs in the underworld. STF sources revealed that the value of 1 bitcoin is approximately Rs 25,000. The black hats after transacting in bitcoins in exchange of leaving the server, then get the bitcoins converted in the currency in the underworld.
Bitcoin can be used to buy things electronically. In that sense, it’s like conventional dollars, euros, yen or even rupees which are also traded digitally.
However, bitcoin’s most important characteristic that makes it different from conventional money, is that it is decentralized. No single institution controls the bitcoin network. This puts some people at ease, because it means that a large bank can’t control their money.
Since conventional money doesn’t exchange hands, it is very difficult to trace these black hats. Being a digital currency, it is very difficult to trace the location where these bitcoins have been exchanged and spent, STF sources said and added it is probably for this reason that the success has eluded UP STF until now.
In all such cases, alongwith facing the problem of encrypted data, the companies also suffer financial losses besides their work also gets adversely affected. Even though UP STF is investigation a few cases, the only sigh of relief is the fact that none of the cases are from UP.
Investigation is on, Singh said and added that efforts are on to nab such black hats or e-extortionists.
There is a cash prize of Rs 50,000/- on the ringleader of the busted gang, Avinash