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Nokia paid extortionist millions of euros in ransom


By Jane McCallion

Posted on 18 Jun 2014 at 09:24

Nokia paid millions of euros to a blackmailer after they threatened to publish the app-signing keys for its Symbian mobile operating system.

The case has remained unsolved since 2007 - a time when half the world's smartphones were made by Nokia according to Finnish broadcaster MTV News, which uncovered the case.

The blackmailer said that if Nokia paid the ransom, the keys would not be made public.

Had they gone through with their threat, trust in the Symbian system would have been destroyed, as anybody would have been able to claim their apps had passed Nokia's "Symbian Signed" quality assurance programme, including malware authors.

When Nokia received the message, it took the matter to the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation - the country's equivalent of the FBI - and a plan to catch the criminal was hatched.

The company set up an exchange in the northern city of Tampere, agreeing to leave the ransom in a bag in the car park of an amusement park.

The plan had been for the police to intercept the blackmailer after they took the money. However, the agents lost track of the person and the ransom was gone.

Speaking to MTV, Detective Superintendent Tero Haapala confirmed there was a "considerable" amount of money in the bag, although he declined to disclose the exact amount, and said the matter is still being investigated as a case of aggravated extortion.

Nevertheless, whoever the blackmailer was, they remained true to their word and did not disclose the keys.

Nokia eventually switched to Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system for its smartphones and this wing of its business was eventually acquired by Microsoft in a deal that closed earlier this year.

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