Nokia 'blackmailed out of millions' by hackers

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Nokia was reportedly blackmailed out of millions of euros by criminals who had threatened to reveal stolen source code six years ago, according to Reuters.

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The phone-maker reportedly paid the hackers after they threatened to publish the app-signing keys for its Symbian mobile operating system. The case has remained unsolved since 2007.

The police confirmed to Reuters that they were investigating a case of alleged blackmail and that the case was still open. Nokia was not available for comment.

“We are investigating felony blackmail, with Nokia the injured party,” Detective Chief Inspector Tero Haapala said, but declined to give further details.

According to Finnish broadcaster MTV News, which uncovered the case, had the encryption key – which is just a few kilobytes in size – been leaked, Nokia would not have been able to ensure that the phones accept only applications approved by the company.

If that had happened, anyone could have written code for the software and been able to pass it off as authentic, which could possibly mean infecting millions of phones with spam or malware.

In 2007, half of the smartphones sold in the world were made by Nokia.

In February 2011, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced that the company would drop Symbian and move its smartphone range to Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS.

Microsoft eventually bought Nokia’s handset business for £4.6bn, but it is thought that there are still 200-300 million Symbian devices in use.

Stuart O’Connor