Hackers in the Indian capital region of Delhi encrypted the files of at least three traders asking for Bitcoins as ransom to release the critical documents, the Hindustan Times reported Delhi police officers saying on Wednesday.
According to the report, the Delhi Police’s crime department has received three reports of this incident so far, but traders say that several other similar incidents have happened to other traders who paid the Bitcoin ransom and didn’t report to authorities.
Police said the traders were given links to buy Bitcoins, with a warning that not complying with their demand would lead to the permanent loss of data. “Some traders paid in Bitcoins and got their data back. Some deposited the money from abroad,” Mohan Goyal, one of the victims told the Hindustan Times.
“When my data was hacked, I spoke to fellow traders and learnt that there were other such cases. I wrote to the hackers and they agreed to decrypt the files for $1,750,” added Goyal. One police officer said the IP address in one of the cases was traced back to a system in Germany. The traders were given the option of getting five files decrypted for free, and the rest after the ransom was paid.
The message displayed on the victims’ computers was that there was a “security problem” on the system. They were then given case numbers and email addresses for communication, said the report.
“We suspect there are syndicates in Nigeria or Pakistan. They identify vulnerable computer systems and use ransomware to target their files. Getting money in Bitcoin works for them because it is difficult to trace the money,” Jiten Jain, the director of cyber-security firm Voyager Infosec told the newspaper.
India’s finance ministry has warned of investing and trading in Bitcoin in the country comparing the cryptocurrency with a ponzi scheme. The digital payment mode is not considered legal tender in India.