Hackers blackmail Belgian bank with threats to publish customer data

The hackers call their €150,000 demand an "idiot tax" because the information was unencrypted on the bank's web server

Hackers claimed to have breached the systems of the Belgian credit provider Elantis and threatened to publish confidential customer information if the bank does not pay €150,000 (US$197,000) before Friday, May 4, they said in a statement posted to Pastebin. Elantis confirmed the data breach on Thursday, but the bank said it will not give in to extortion threats.

The hackers claim to have captured login credentials and tables with online loan applications which hold data such as full names, job descriptions, contact information, ID card numbers and income figures. They demanded a payment of "the equivalent of roughly €150,000", with which Elantis could prevent the publication of confidential customer information, they said in a Pastebin post published on Tuesday. According to the hackers the data was stored unprotected and unencrypted on the servers. To prove the hack, parts of what they claimed to be captured customer data were published.

"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," they said.

The hackers contacted the bank via email last Friday, said Moniek Delvou, spokeswoman for Belfius Bank (formerly known as Dexia), Elantis' parent company. "We assume they possibly captured the data of 3,700 customers," Delvou said, adding that the compromised data could belong to existing and potential customers. Elantis customers were informed of the data breach, according to Delvou.

After finding out what happened the Elantis site was taken offline and the bank contacted the Belgian Federal High Tech Crime Unit which is now investigating the case, Delvou said. An unnamed specialized American security firm is also conducting an investigation, she added.

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

The hackers did not specify in what way Elantis should pay the €150,000, and after the email sent last Friday there has been no contact between the hackers and the bank, she said. Elantis plans to put its site back online when it is deemed secure enough, according to Delvou.

The Federal High Tech Crime Unit could not immediately comment on the pending investigation. The hackers could not be contacted.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about IDG

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Loek Essers

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place