Hackers threatened the Bengaluru-based IT giant Wipro with a biological attack if the company did not pay $77,760,498 USD (500 crore) in bitcoins by May 25. In an email sent on Friday the sender threatened to use Ricin, a natural toxin, in food served in cafeterias, drones or on toilet seats. The email, with a link for payment, contends a two gram sample of the toxin will be sent to a Wipro office in the coming days.
“The mail has mentioned that a biochemical powder (Ricin) will be sent in covers to your (Wipro) offices to assure that the threat is not fake,” said a police source on the condition of anonymity. The toxic protein (Ricin) is made out of castor bean, from which castor oil is also produced.
The company, who is not changing its operations but is bolstering security, registered a complaint with local authorities. “Wipro confirms that it has filed a complaint with the local law enforcement authorities after receiving a threatening letter from an unidentified source. Wipro has augmented security measures at all its office locations. There is no impact on the company’s operations. We have no further comments as the investigation is ongoing”, the IT major said in a statement.
The Bengaluru police cyber crimes unit is investigating the case, currently looking to find the origin of the email. Police have said the email might be a hoax.
“We will have to explore and find out whether these are genuine are not,” noted Additional Commissioner (Crime) of the Bengaluru police S Ravi.
“We have registered the case under Section 66F of the IT Act (cyber terrorism) and are investigating it,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Anand Kumar. Although the company declined to mention who sent the threat mail, police sources said it was from some “firstname.lastname@example.org” mail ID.
“Though we got some clues, we cannot share, as the investigation is underway. We have to also find out who all are involved in it from the IP address from where the threat mail was sent,” noted Kumar.
The IT behemoth received a similar threat, which turned out to be a hoax, in 2013. An anonymous letter threatened to blow up the company’s campuses in Bengaluru.
Since the threat, WiproBSE shares are down an unnotable one-tenth of a percent. The ransom threat underscores the useful nature of bitcoins in the now.
While Wipro has been threatened with a biological attack, hackers typical merely threaten to destroy a person or company’s important data while demanding bitcoins. Reports say Wipro is bolstering security in the wake of threats at all of its offices.
“We have augmented security measures at all office locations, though there is no impact on our operations,” said the city-based IT firm in a statement emailed on Saturday.
The toxic material can be fatal if inhaled, taken as a pill or mixed in water for anyone. “As the investigation is going on, we would not like to comment further on the issue,” said Wipro in the statement.