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Nokia paid off extortionist in 2007: Finnish TV

Envelopes full of cash handed over to protect Symbian app-signing keys secret

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A Finnish broadcaster has revealed that Nokia paid a ransom to keep the app-signing keys of its Symbian operating system secret, in an extortion case dating back to 2007.

According to MTV News, the former mobe giant, whose Symbian phones were market leaders back in the day, paid out “millions of Euros” in the extortion.

As El Reg readers will know, the keys provided a proof of authenticity for apps running on Symbian. While it wasn't the only way for a developer to ship a third-party app for the operating system, only those that passed Nokia's quality control could ship as “Symbian Signed” apps.

If the keys had escaped into the outside world, anybody would have been able to pass off their apps as having been okayed by Nokia – including malware.

MTV News says the country's National Bureau of Investigation confirmed the case is still unsolved. The payoff to keep the keys secret happened “at a parking lot nearby Särkänniemi amusement park” in the city of Tampere, in what seems to have been planned as a drop-and-arrest operation.

“Then things went wrong. The blackmailer took the bag. Police, however, lost track of the blackmailer and the money was gone.” ®

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