Reply to post: Takes me back

Scottish enviro bods shrug off ransomware gang's extortion attempt as 4,000 files dumped online, saying it's nothing big

Michael Hoffmann
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Takes me back

Many, many moons ago, I worked for the US Antarctic Program. Somehow Romanian hackers had managed to break into a number of science systems at the South Pole and download gigs of data. No mean feat seeing as the station had limited capacity via satellite links that were only up around 8-11 hours per day.

The fun part was that they were trying to blackmail the NSF with releasing that data as well! This was before ransomware as we now know it. Also, this was around the time of the X-Files movie, if anybody remembers that. You know the one with the secret alien base on the South Pole? From the communication it was clear the Romanians thought that we either pay or they would dump the files and publish The Truth (That Is Out There).

What it actually was, was hundreds of gigabytes of atmospheric and astrophysical data (google ICECUBE and AMANDA projects), which, like all science data, was merely embargoed for 2 years so that the principal investigators and their teams could publish findings first, seeing as it was *their* work. Afterwards it becomes public anyway. So yeah, hacking scientific institutes and threatening to ransom their data is not really a lucrative income stream - it's going to be published anyway!

Oh, and through cooperation of the FBI and Interpol, AFAIR, they arrested the guys.

The best part: it got me a 6 week sojourn to McMurdo and South Pole, the closest I'll ever get to space travel (speaking in terms of hostile environments where only few people have ever gone). Those memories will stick with me for life, so, mulțumesc, baieti!

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