Hackers hijack financial information from miner and demand ransom in bitcoins

At first, there was talk of an anomaly. Two hours later, executives at the Canadian-owned iodine producer Atacama Minerals realized that the situation was much more complex: the company’s computer systems had been attacked by hackers.

A great attack: the files of the company’s Finance Department had been encrypted, so it was not possible to access the information, unless a certain algorithm was used.

The records that were affected were related to accounting documents up to the month of December 2021, copies of invoices issued and received, SAP information system database, digitized copies of deeds and information extracts, as well as various documents, reports and presentations of the accounting and financial area.

The biggest surprise came five hours after the “incident” was unleashed, detected by the company’s IT manager after a notice from an official from the Finance Department who had connected remotely to the firm’s system and had noticed anomalies .

This is how the same IT executive detected a file with a message: it indicated that they should contact the person responsible for the cyber attack to receive, in exchange for a payment in Bitcoins, the algorithms to decrypt the seized information.

The situation had boiled over.

Cyberattacks often originate from emails that appear harmless at first glance. Many times the sender is a bank that offers promotions. He looks suspicious, but there are those who open it. It is the key for a computer to be hijacked by criminals who then demand ransom.

Worldwide, the number of victims of ransomware – programs that lock the files, data and programs of other people’s computers – continues to multiply every year, despite warnings from the police and experts.

In Chile, last year there was a significant increase in fraud crimes and, among these, those that originated on the Internet had a prominent place in terms of complaints received by the PDI. From the Metropolitan Economic Crimes Brigade (Bridec) they attribute this phenomenon to changes in habits in the population as an effect of the pandemic, that is, to the increase in teleworking.

At the national level, in 2021, the civil police received 35% more complaints of events that are part of the crime of “Scams and Other Frauds against Individuals”. About 55% of these were committed using the Internet. The most used media were social networks and instant messaging applications or chats, reported the PDI.