Criminals and pranksters are coming up with innovative ways to coax people into paying them ransom, that too in the form of bitcoin. These threats are sometimes serious enough to have the whole security apparatus of a region to go tizzy. The incident in question happened in Kolkata, India after an email was received by the officials at the Kolkata airport.
The email declared that a bomb has been planted in the airport and demanded 60 BTCs worth close to $25000 in ransom to prevent it from going off! The email presumably originated from Germany. As soon as the email was discovered, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in charge of airport security across the country deployed Quick Reaction Teams to search the premises and to conduct more thorough checks of passengers and baggage. Even aircraft were double checked to ensure that there are no explosive devices onboard. it is reported that the lack of clarity in the threat mail led to the ministry of civil aviation declaring high alert in all airports across the country.
There are many instances where the Airports across India have received hoax calls informing about a possible bomb or a hijacking attempt. These threats are never taken lightly and every time measures are taken to confirm and neutralize the possible threat. But none of these threat messages so far had included a bitcoin ransom note in it until now. The ease of transferring bitcoin and converting it to fiat currency of choice is being exploited by criminals. While some people think that bitcoin is an anonymous distributed digital currency, it is not true. Bitcoin is pseudonymous at best and transactions can be tracked. With few extra time and resources, the identity of parties to the transaction can also be identified.
The email incident is currently under investigation and the Cyber Crime Cell is trying to ascertain the origin of the email and the sender’s identity.