Australia: Hacked credit company rejects ransom demand

Australia: Hacked credit company rejects ransom demand

SYDNEY, April 11, 2023 (AP) — Australian firm Latitude Financial said Tuesday it had refused to pay a ransom to hackers who stole the personal data of millions of its customers.

The consumer finance company reported in March that hackers had stolen the personal information of about 14 million of its Australian and New Zealand customers, in one of the worst data thefts in the country’s history.

Latitude Financial said it recently received a ransom demand from the group behind the cyberattack, and has ignored it in line with government advice.

“We will not reward criminal behavior, and we do not believe that paying a ransom will result in the return or destruction of stolen information,” it explained in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

The company added that paying a ransom would “only encourage extortion attempts,” without detailing the hackers’ demands.

According to the company, 7.9 million Australian and New Zealand driver’s licenses have been stolen, along with 53,000 passport numbers.

Also stolen were 6.1 million records dating back to at least 2005 and containing information such as names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.

According to Australian Home Affairs Minister Claire O’Neill, acquiescence to hackers “fuels the ransomware business model”.

“They promise to take action in return for payment, but often they re-harass companies and individuals.”

In recent months, hackers have attacked some of Australia’s largest companies in a series of separate attacks that have put authorities on high alert.

Russian hackers have been accused of accessing thousands of medical records from Australian insurance giant Medibank, in a failed attempt to extort the ransom in late 2022.

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Telecom company Optus was also the victim of a massive data breach in September 2022. Hackers gained access to the personal data of about 9.8 million people.

sft / arb / qan / jnd / rr


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