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Extortion in the Digital Age

By Jordan Robertson - 2012-09-07T22:30:48Z

Photograph by Mike Powell

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Computer Insecurity

Many extortion demands are empty threats. One that wasn't involved the biggest maker of computer-security software. In February, Symantec revealed that a person claiming to be a member of the Anonymous hacking group asked for $50,000 to keep stolen source code secret. Symantec notified law enforcement and the hackers followed through on their threat, posting source code for some of the company's products. Symantec argued that the code was swiped in a network incursion in 2006 and was mostly for obsolete products.

The hackers failed to extract money from Symantec, but the damage was already done: The fact that the company was breached and didn't know it for years showed that even the biggest names in security can fall victim to the very threats they're paid to extinguish.