TalkTalk Ransom Demand

So, the head of TalkTalk (Dido Harding) has received a ransom demand following the latest hack? From a bunch of Islamist gangsters? I don’t think so. Okay, she probably received an email extortion attempt. Several in fact. It’d be form for Islamist gangsters to have a go, amongst the usual suspects. But the idea that whoever is behind the attacks also sent the ransom demand does not sound like the normal MO. It smells wrong to me. Extortion attempts of this kind generally follow a demonstration that the criminals can disrupt a web site, not after a long-term outage.

I get the vibes that TalkTalk doesn’t know what happened, and take everything they say with a pinch of salt. The only certainty is that their web site was toppled. Data theft, or script kiddies? I suspect the latter, actually. They floated the possibility of widespread data theft, which is very responsible of them until it’s figured out what exactly happened. This is a possibility in any attack.

Meanwhile, people are now questioning whether the stolen data (if there was any) was encrypted, and if not, why not. On a live system, data can’t be encrypted. Think about it! This is allegedly a hack of a live system, so the criminals would have access to the same data that he live system would.

This whole story has been hyped up way beyond the facts. No one (including TalkTalk) wants to suggest it may be overblown for fear of being branded irresponsible by a technically illiterate news media and opportunistic politicians. But it smells all wrong to me. How much more embarrassing if it was was actually script kiddies getting lucky, rather than the APT being hinted at.

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