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Hackers hold retailers to ransom, bitcoins reportedly paid

Th hacker used the online alias Spiderman

TWO well-known local electronic supply stores that were held to ransom by cyber-hackers who had attacked and locked down their software system, are reported to have paid ransoms to avoid facing serious operational problems.

Daily ‘Politis’ reported on Thursday, that complaints regarding attacks were filed with the police cybercrime unit by two of the island’s best known retailers, Stephanis and Bionic, with Europol’s assistance also being requested.

According to the information available, the Stephanis chain of shops was attacked some ten days ago. Despite having security firewalls, the hackers managed to lock up the company’s systems, apparently forcing the sales side to start issuing hand written receipts to customers. It did not take long for technicians at the company to discover it was under attack, as the aspiring hackers put in a demand for 20 bitcoins (currently worth around €710 each) to stop the hack.

Reports say the company agreed to pay the 13 units (worth around €9250) of the untraceable currency after negotiations.

A few days later, Bionic was attacked in a similar manner by an e-mailed ransom virus called ‘Locky’ that encrypts files on the host server. The victim is then directed to a website containing instructions and demanding payment of a ransom to unlock the system.  Since the hackers possess the private key and servers are controlled by them, the victims are motivated to pay up in order for their files to be decrypted.

Reports say that although Bionic had backed up all its files in a secure location, it nonetheless paid up a ransom of 3.5 bitcoins, as the recovery process was considered too time consuming and expensive.

According to police sources, several other companies have fallen victim to similar attacks, having been forced to pay up in order to have their software released, with one shipping company reportedly paying €60,000 in bitcoins to the cybercriminals.

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