Popular English rock band Radiohead has released eighteen hours worth of recordings to the public after a hacker stole a copy of the recordings and demanded $150,000 in ransom in exchange for not releasing them to the public.
The act of gaining access to sensitive information or intellectual property and then blackmailing organisations to force them into paying a ransom is a popular tactic among hackers whose sole motive is earning money.
What motivates such hackers more is that a large number of businesses are more inclined towards paying ransom to hackers rather than defying them in order to avoid loss of reputation or to avoid punishments for suffering data breaches.
However, rock band Radiohead has demonstrated publicly that it is possible to defeat malicious actors and avoid falling prey to hackers who exploit sensitive and confidential information to force organisations into paying a ransom.
Radiohead foils hacker's ransom demand
The rock band announced recently that it released eighteen-hours worth of music recordings to the public after a hacker stole the recordings and demanded $150,000 in ransom in exchange for not releasing them to the public.
"We got hacked last week- someone stole Thom's minidisk archive from around the time of OK Computer, and reportedly demanded $150,000 on threat of releasing it.
"So instead of complaining- much- or ignoring it, we're releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion. Just for the next 18 days. So for £18 you can find out if we should have paid that ransom," said lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.
The eighteen hours of recordings that were made public by Radiohead in response to the ransom demand show the band's preparations for OK Computer, a hugely popular album which was released in 1997, reached number one on the UK Albums Chart, and sold at least 7.8 million units worldwide.
According to informations available on Wikipedia, OK Computer was also "nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and won Best Alternative Music Album at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards in 1998, and was included by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Considering the album's popularity, it is not surprising that hackers intended to gain access to secret recordings of Radiohead and blackmail the group into paying a ransom. However, the hacker must now have realised that blackmail may not work at all times.
"Hackers often expect their victims to pay up, so this response to blackmail is a breath of fresh air. Yet we shouldn’t let the novelty of this situation diminish the reality that these hackers could go on to extract much more damaging or sensitive information from other victims. After all, most organisations can’t simply release stolen files," says Pete Banham, cyber resilience expert at Mimecast.
"It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business or rock band, in 2019 you’re likely to have digital or intellectual property that is valuable to you or someone else. That makes you a target. So every organisation needs to be vigilant and ensure it has right protections to keep data secure.
"Data breaches can have a severe impact on a company, its employees, its customers and its end-users. That’s why businesses need to ensure an effective cyber resilience plan is in place so everyone knows their role in the event of a breach, and they also need to continuously evaluate whether they are minimising risk appropriately.
"We also shouldn’t become complacent to the inherently risky nature of everyday business tools like email. Data extraction often starts with email-based attacks, so every employee needs to be cautious every time they click a link or open an attachment," he adds.