Cracker breaks the bank in Czech Republic

Country's largest bank claims it is secure despite incident.

Czechoslovakia's largest bank, Ceska Sporitelna, is being held to ransom by a particularly daring cracker, who claims to have broken into the bank's computer system and is offering to sell customer details to competing companies.

To prove his (or her) point the cracker enclosed personal details and transaction details of a number of clients within an email circulated to targeted Czech firms. The email, sent from, invited companies to reply if interested in "business offers". The cracker also invited communication from the media, apparently hungry for wider exposure.

Mathew Bevan, security consultant with the UK's Tiger Team Security, says this sort of incident is likely to become commonplace. "People are looking at more and more ways to access places like this," he said. Bevan, however, famed for cracking the Pentagon in 1990, reckons the perpetrator of this particular stunt should not be taken all that seriously. "This guy is some sort of joker. If he has really got the skills to get access to account information he would probably have more sense than to shout about it all over the Web."

Police are carrying out a full scale man-hunt for the cracker, according to sources.

A recent international report suggested that banks are at risk from extortion by high-tech criminals, but that those responsible are usually insiders. (See "Banks hit by high-tech extortion".)