Hackers jailed for attacking UK firms

After extracting over £2m through blackmail demands, three cybercriminals face eight years behind bars

Three Russian citizens have been jailed for eight years each for extorting money from UK e-commerce companies.

Ivan Maksakov, Alexander Petrov and Denis Stepanov were all sentenced on Wednesday. They were accused of receiving $4m (£2.12m) from firms that they threatened with cyberattacks.

The trio concentrated on UK Internet gambling sites, according to the prosecution. One bookmaker, which refused to pay a demand for $10,000, was attacked and brought offline — which reportedly cost it more than $200,000 a day in lost business.

Maksakov, Petrov and Stepanov were arrested in 2004, through a joint operation between the UK National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) and the Russian authorities.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), which has now replaced the NHTCU, confirmed that the three had been jailed and fined 100,000 roubles (£2,000) each. However, SOCA declined to say whether the convictions would help reduce cybercrime in the UK or encourage more firms to come forward about blackmail demands.

Senior police sources have expressed concern that UK companies keep quiet when they are hacked or blackmailed, rather than informing the authorities. This can create a climate where malicious hackers are encouraged to launch attacks.

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