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Crackers get £1m ransom from banks

Bankers get spanked by latest e-crime trend

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A disturbing new trend is emerging in the world of online finance. Crackers (naughty hackers) are holding banks to ransom, threatening to cripple their systems or make public sensitive information, demanding huge sums of money. In Germany last week, Noris Verbraucherbank offered a DM10,000 (£3,000) reward to catch a cracker who was demanding a ransom of £300,000 not to reveal the bank's customers' private access codes. An ATM machine is thought to have captured the man on camera. The picture appeared in the German press. But Germany is not alone. City investigators in London have confirmed two separate cases where financial institutions have paid out ransom totalling more than £1 million. Around 30 international banks said that they had been victims of serious cracker attacks in the last year. The International Chamber of Commerce said that it was aware that such attacks had occurred, but it would not discuss details. A spokesman for the organisation - which is ready to launch a unit to tackle online crime - told London paper Metro: "We have had cases of extortion, and the matter has been investigated internally and the threat removed. I don't think you will find many companies who admit that there is a problem." The UK government has set up a team to investigate the phenomenon. The Communications Electronics Security Group, will be on hand to check out sensitive equipment for flaws. ®

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