Cyberextortion is Big Business

By Deane Barker on October 9, 2005

The Zombine Hunters: This article is scary. Crackers tried to get this company to pay $10,000 in protection money. The company refused, and it now costs them a half-million a year just to stay online. A brutal story.

Michael Alculumbre’s first communication from the extortionists arrived on a Thursday evening in August, 2004. An e-mail message was sent to him just after 8 p.m. at Protx, an online-payment processing company based in London, where he is the chief executive officer. The subject line read, simply, “Contact us,” and the return address — commerce_protection@yahoo.com — offered no clues to the message’s origin.

The note was cordial and succinct, written in stilted English. “Hello,” it began. “We attack your servers for some time. If you want save your business, you should pay 10.000$ bank wire to our bank account. When we receive money, we stop attack immediately. If we will not receive money, we will attack your business 1 month.” The note said that ten thousand dollars would buy Protx a year’s worth of protection. “Think about how much money you lose, while your servers are down. Thanks John Martino.”

Alculumbre had never heard of John Martino. He decided to ignore the demand.

Two months later, Alculumbre’s network technician called him at home. He said that customers were complaining that the system was off-line. […]

Evil people suck.

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