Police in Sussex are investigating reports that businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector, have received on-line threats that if they do not pay in virtual currency to on-line accounts their websites will be attacked.
So far this week five businesses, restaurants, B&Bs and hotels in Hastings, St Leonards, Eastbourne and Brighton have reported receiving emails saying that if they do not pay £500 by bitcoin into an on-line payment address their websites will be hacked and reputational damage will be caused to them.
All have stated their intention not to pay and the Surrey and Sussex Cyber Crime Team are investigating.
Amounts and type of virtual currency may differ in other reports across the country.
Detective Sergeant Graham Lewendon of the Surrey and Sussex Cyber Crime Unit said; “We advise businesses to preserve the email and contact us so we can investigate.”
The National Crime Agency are aware and are liaising with organisations and law enforcement partners throughout the UK.
Meanwhile businesses should take the following steps to secure their business interests - Carry out a current back-up of all important data/systems, secure passwords for all online services and media accounts. Use 2-step verification where possible.
Monitor online review sites linked to their business and report anything wrong back to the provider in question.
Businesses and individuals should report online crime to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Further online safety advice and resources are available at www.cyberstreetwise.comand www.getsafeonline.org.
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