Largest Ever Cyber Extortion Case Discovered in India; Hackers Extort $10M From 2 Indian Companies!


Digital cyber extortion

Organized crime in India started from Mumbai in 1960s, where Pathan groups headed by Karim Lala & other criminals extorted money from rich businessmen, in order to protect them from other criminal groups and from Government officials who were looking after their unpaid tax. In 1980s, Dawood Ibrahim defeated these Pathan Groups, and formed D-Company, which was independent India’s first organized crime cartel.

History is being repeated now, albeit digitally.

Criminals with the mindset of extortion are now using Internet as a medium and hacking as a tool, to demand ransoms to protect rich businessmen’s secrets from the Govt.

And the first major case of such cyber extortion has already happened.

Extortion Goes Digital

As per a report published by Economic Times, it was found that a hacker group based in Middle East has extorted $10 million from two Indian companies. They scared these companies by threatening to disclose their secrets to the Indian Government.

It seems that these cited companies were involved in tax evasions and other illegal activities, as they paid the ransom to the hackers, and buried the case.

Although no official confirmation has arrived – either from the police or these companies, ET has talked with several private detectives, executives and officials from various sources.

As per the sources, one of the companies have provided names of the hacker groups which are into this business of cyber extortion: njRAT, XtreameRAT, h-w0rm, anonghost, SEA and Opsavegaza. Three of them: anonghost, SEA and Opsavegaza have roots in Middle East, which again, is a speculation as the virtual addresses can be faked several times.

Cyber Crime on The Rise

Few months ago, a MD in Hyderabad was shocked to see a message on his computer, which said: “Pay $1,000 to get your data back and do the payment in Bitcoins.”

Apparently, his company’s database was hacked and in order to access it, the hackers demanded a ransom.

As seen in various cases of cyber extortion, the hackers first take control of the system and then wait patiently for the right moment. In the first case, the hackers had taken control via remote login, and had compromised the email platform. Hence, the attackers based in Middle East were able to track each and every conversation which happened between the employees, and even the mouse movement on the screens.

Once they had the required confidential information which the company wanted to hide, they made their move and demanded ransom to maintain the secrecy.

Sharing some tips on how to avoid such cyber attacks, Joint Commissioner of Police (CCS), T Prabhakar Rao from Hyderabad said, “Corporates and individuals should always maintain upgraded operating systems, firewalls and advanced anti-virus softwares to protect data from intrusion. One should avoid using unlicensed, pirated, free anti-virus tools available on the web, since many of them are not foolproof. Corporates should have a periodic cyber audit to avoid data hacking. Never open unsolicited mails or invites on social media,”

Cyber extortion is becoming a huge menace for the digital economy; and we hope that Government comes up with policies and regulations which stop the spread of this crime.

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