IT Company, WiproBSE is receiving an anonymous bio threat of a toxic drug attack unless it pays Rs 500 crore in bitcoins by May 25.
The Bengaluru-headquartered infotech major received a threatening email like it did in 2013, which claimed to blow up the company’s campuses but later it turned out to be a hoax. The sender has threatened to use a natural toxin, Ricin, through drones, cafeteria food or via the toilet seats and toilet paper in the complex, said police sources. The email, which carries a payment link, claims a two-gram sample will be sent in the coming days to one of the Wipro’s offices. They have also claimed to have isolated the toxin and already tried it on stray dogs.
Ricin is found in the seeds of the castor oil plant and can kill through ingestion or inhalation.
Wipro has registered a complaint with the local law enforcement authorities and said that their operations are not affected.
“Wipro has augmented security measures at all its office locations. There is no impact on the company’s operations. We have no further comments as the investigation is ongoing”, the IT major said, in a statement.
The Bengaluru police have asked their cyber cell to trace the sender of the email. Officers did not rule out a hoax by a prankster but said that a case had been registered. Either way, they said, investigations would continue and Wipro offices in the city would be placed under additional vigil.
It is for sure that the mailer is tech-savvy as the ransom demanded is in bitcoins which is a digital currency transacted through a software-based payment system that is accepted worldwide and is run by private agencies. Transactions in the virtual currency of bitcoin, which is part of no banking system, cannot be tracked which makes it easier for cyber criminals to run their trade. People can send and receive money online through bitcoins anonymously.
Such threats are part of a criminal trend gathering force all over the world — the bitcoin ransom, the more common form of this crime where hackers infecting a computer system with ransomware which encrypts all the data and then demanding payment in bitcoins to unlock the data or devices. A large number of individuals and organisations end up paying ransom to rescue their data.
After getting the ransom, hackers send an encryption code which unlocks the data. In some instances, they offer to unlock a small part of the encrypted data to show the victim that the data could be rescued.
Experts say bitcoin transactions are on the rise due to a large number of victims of ransomware attacks deciding to pay up instead of reporting the crime. Currently, a bitcoin is worth $1,595. The total value of the bitcoin market is about $24.5 billion, thrice what it was this time last year.
According to the US Department of Justice, ransomware attacks have quadrupled this year from a year ago, averaging 4,000 a day. The ransomware payments range from $500 to $30,000, depending on the importance of the data.