Cybercrooks going after the euros

A supposed hacker is attempting to extort 10,000 euros from European Union banks in exchange for stolen credit card information on 48,000 accounts.

According to the online security company SecureWorks, e-mails with the subject line 'We can have a deal!' have been sent to banks in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Norway, and an apparent copycat has targeted banks in the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany.

'And now I have two ways to do,' the blackmailer writes. One, he can post the information on the Web to the embarrassment of the bank. 'However, I have the second way. We can have a deal if you transfer 10,000 EUR on my account.' In this case, he promises ' no doubt sincerely ' to destroy the data.

The threat might or might not be legitimate, but either way, Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at SecureWorks, thinks the offer is a bad deal. The information described by the blackmailer is worth only about 1,000 euros on the underground market, and news of a successful extortion is likely to be more damaging to a bank than a breach would be.

'We will almost certainly see this one jump the pond and target banks in the United States shortly,' Jackson said. But maybe not. With the steady fall of the dollar, a wise criminal might want to keep his extortions in euros.

They say every cloud has a silver lining. If you get one of these e-mails, notify your local FBI or Secret Service field office.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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