Hacker tries to blackmail RIM over riot data

Summary:The official BlackBerry blog has been defaced by a purported Team Poison hacker, who threatened to expose employee data if RIM does not stop helping police identify London rioters using BBM

Hackers have defaced the official BlackBerry blog in what appears to be an attempt to blackmail Research In Motion into not co-operating with police investigating the London riots.

After the disturbances at the weekend, RIM said it would help the Metropolitan Police identify rioters who used its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service to organise or incite action. On Tuesday, the defacement message appeared on the Inside BlackBerry blog site, signed by a hacker called Trick who purported to be part of the hacker group Team Poison.

BlackBerry blog hacked

The Team Poison defacement message appeared on the BlackBerry blog on Tuesday. Screenshot: Tom Espiner

In the message, the hacker said the group has access to RIM employee information. It warned that if RIM co-operates with police to track down alleged rioters, the group will make the staff's sensitive information public.

"If you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, gps locations, customer information & access to peoples BlackBerryMessengers you will regret it," the message said. "We have access to your database which includes your employees information; e.g – Addresses, Names, Phone Numbers etc. – now if u assist the police, we _WILL_ make this information public and pass it onto rioters…"

The rioting started on Saturday in Tottenham Hale in response to the fatal shooting of a man by police. Over the following days, it spread to other districts of London and cities elsewhere in the UK, including Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Nottingham.

Team Poison taunted RIM in Twitter posts on Tuesday, indicating that RIM was trying to take down the defaced web page. In one post, it said: "@UK_BlackBerry tip: deleting posts wont get u far, try find out ho we got in and patch ur shit, kthxbye." In a second, it said: "Now we sit back and laugh at @UK_BlackBerry attempts to fix thier blog."

If you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, gps locations, customer information & access to peoples BlackBerryMessengers you will regret it.

– Message on BlackBerry blog

The website for the official BlackBerry blog (blogs.blackberry.com) was down at 5pm on Tuesday. The Canadian handset maker declined to comment on the situation.

As disturbances in London continued for a fourth day, there were rumours on BBM forums and on Twitter that RIM was going to shut down the mobile instant-messaging service, to prevent it from being used as a communications channel by rioters. A source close to the company told ZDNet UK that the rumours started on Monday with a BBM message purporting to come from RIM, but that this message was a hoax.

Charlie McMurdie, the head of the Metropolitan Police eCrime Unit, is working with Cobra on response to the riots, she told ZDNet UK. Cobra is an emergency response group made up of government officials and prime minister David Cameron, which met on Tuesday. The Met was unavailable for comment on the RIM defacement or on the BBM shutdown situation.

Read the full text of hacker's message here.

Topics: Security


Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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