Details surrounding Nokia blackmail surface

Company reportedly paid millions to criminals threatening to reveal Symbian encryption key

Tags: FinlandMicrosoft CorporationNokia Corporation
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Details surrounding Nokia blackmail surface The Symbian OS once powered over 50% of the world's mobile phones
By  Tom Paye Published  June 19, 2014

Reuters yesterday reported on claims from Finnish TV station MTV that Nokia paid several million euros to criminals threatening to release an encryption key for its Symbian operating system around six years ago.

Police confirmed to the news agency that a case of alleged blackmail was still under investigation, while Nokia was not available to comment.

"We are investigating felony blackmail, with Nokia the injured party," Detective Chief Inspector Tero Haapala told Reuters.

According to Reuters, MTV claims that the blackmailers had acquired an encryption key for the Symbian mobile operating system - once the most widely used mobile OS in the world. If Nokia did not pay up, the report said, the criminals would release the key into the public domain, opening the software up to cyber-criminals who could create malware that was indistinguishable from genuine apps.

After receiving the blackmailers' terms, Nokia contacted the police and agreed to deliver the cash to car park in central Finland, Reuters said. Following the exchange, the criminals escaped with the cash, with the police losing track of them.

While the Symbian software was once powering more than 50% of the world's phones, the operating system has in recent years been displaced by competition from Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Nokia itself ditched the OS in favour of Windows Mobile more than a year ago.

Since then, Nokia's devices division has been sold off to Microsoft, with the company now focusing on high-grade telecoms equipment.

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