Belgian credit provider held to ransom over hacked customer data
Belgian credit provider held to ransom over hacked customer data

A group that hacked into the credit division of a European bank is demanding payment to not release customer data.

In a Pastebin statement, it said it downloaded extensive confidential customer information from Elantis, a Belgian credit provider owned by Dexia, last week. This included data such as internal login credentials, online loan applications and fully processed applications, and featured "applicants' full names, their jobs, ID card numbers, contact information and details about their income. It is worth pointing out that this data was left unprotected and unencrypted on Elantis's servers”, the group said.

It said it contacted Dexia "to offer them not to publicly release this data over the internet if they agreed to pay us the equivalent of roughly €150,000 (£121,000)"; the deadline was yesterday, and so far no payment has been made.

“While this could be called ‘blackmail', we prefer to think of it as an ‘idiot tax' for leaving confidential data unprotected on a web server,” it said.

Ashley Stephenson, executive vice-president of Corero Network Security, said: “This once again highlights the need for corporations to be proactively prepared for cyber attacks. The alleged ransom of €150,000 is almost immaterial compared with the commercial impact on the reputation of the bank by it having to admit to the security breach.

“The cost of the breach will only get worse if customer data is actually released and exploited by cyber criminals. Whether or not the bank chooses to pay the ransom, the damage is already done.”

In a statement to pcworld.com, Moniek Delvou, spokeswoman for Belfius Bank (formerly known as Dexia), Elantis's parent company, said the hackers contacted the bank via email last Friday and the compromised data could involve 3,700 potential and existing customers.

She said Elantis customers were informed of the data breach and the Elantis site was taken offline; the Belgian Federal High Tech Crime Unit and an American security firm are conducting an investigation, she added.

“We are not prepared to pay. We don't like blackmail,” Delvou said.