Extortion attack on computers suspected

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2012, 12:00am


Technology-crime detectives are investigating an alleged extortion case after a Wan Chai financial company complained of receiving demands for money after its computer system was attacked.

The case came to light after a 49-year-old senior executive from the firm, based in the Allied Kajima Building on Gloucester Road, came forward at 1.30am yesterday. 'He said he received an anonymous e-mail [on Wednesday afternoon] claiming that his company's computer network would be attacked,' a police investigator said. 'The e-mail demanded payment of 100,000 yuan (HK$123,000) to avoid interruptions to the computer system.'

The executive returned to the office on Wednesday night and found the computer system had been disrupted.

Another officer said preliminary investigation indicated it was a 'denial-of-service' cyberattack.

'As the computer network was under attack, its website was inaccessible to users,' he said.

It is understood that no money has been paid. Officers from the commercial crime bureau's technology-crime division are investigating.

There was just one cyberattack in 2010, but 11 last year.

In August, a 28-year-old man was arrested in relation to an attack on the stock exchange's website, HKExnews.hk, which forced a halt in trading of seven listed companies.

Last year, hackers and computer-related scams cost Hong Kong a record HK$149 million, placing cybercrime near the top of police operational priorities.

While hacking is relatively new and limited in Hong Kong, last year there were 2,206 cases of other types of computer crime - a rise of 35 per cent from 2010.

Police will soon open a cybersecurity centre to protect government and commercial websites.