Stolen Code Held for Ransom

Thursday, February 9, 2012 @ 02:02 PM gHale

Hackers got into Symantec’s pcAnywhere source code and tried to extort $50,000 from the company, officials said.

Symantec said the source code was legitimate and it expects the rest of the code stolen from its network in 2006 will also come out in public, a company spokesman said.

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This comes on the heels of the appearance late Monday of a 1.3GB file on various file-sharing websites, including Pirate Bay, that claimed to be the source code of the pcAnywhere remote-access software.

Download activity for the BitTorrent file has been moderately brisk: As of mid-morning Tuesday, Pirate Bay identified 376 “seeders,” the term for a computer that has a complete copy of the file — and about 200 “leechers,” or computers that have downloaded only part of the complete torrent.

Anonymous claimed responsibility for posting the pcAnywhere source code.

“We can confirm that the source code is legitimate,” said Cris Paden, a spokesman for Symantec. “It is part of the original cache of code for 2006 versions of the products that Anonymous has claimed to have been in possession during the last few weeks.”

Also on Monday, an individual or group going by the name “Yama Tough” had published a series of emails on Pastebin that detailed an attempt to extort $50,000 from Symantec.

Previously, Yama Tough claimed responsibility for stealing the source code to pcAnywhere and other Symantec security software. At one point, Yama Tough had threatened to publish the source code, but then recanted.

The Pastebin-posted emails covered negotiations between Yama Tough and someone identified as “Sam Thomas,” supposedly a Symantec employee, over payment for not disclosing the source code. In fact, Thomas was a pseudonym used by U.S. authorities, whom Symantec had alerted to the threat.

“In January, an individual claiming to be part of the ‘Anonymous’ group attempted to extort a payment from Symantec in exchange for not publicly posting stolen Symantec source code they claimed to have in their possession,” Paden said. “Symantec conducted an internal investigation into this incident and also contacted law enforcement, given the attempted extortion and apparent theft of intellectual property. The communications with the person(s) attempting to extort the payment from Symantec were part of the law enforcement investigation.”

The negotiations went on for nearly a month — the emails began Jan. 18 — but broke down when Yama Tough rejected Thomas’ conditions, which included an offer of payments of $2,500 each month for the first three months, with the balance to come after there was proof they destroyed the copy of the stolen source code.

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