Big Travel Firm CWT Pays $4.5 Million Bitcoin Ransom to Hackers

CWT, one of the largest travel companies in the United States, paid Bitcoin $ 4.5 million this week to hackers who infiltrated the company's computer system and stole sensitive corporate information. It is unclear whether customer information has also been compromised.

Reuters reported that the cyber thieves bitcoin wallet got 414 BTC on July 28th as payment for the ransom. At current prices, the ransom would be worth more than $ 4.8 million.

According to the report, the attackers infected CWT's computer network with a ransomware called Ragnar Locker, which encrypted the entire system and made it accessible only to hackers.

The criminals said they had 30,000 computers disabled, but the company later said the number was exaggerated while confirming the cyberattack that forced it to shut down its systems.

"We can confirm that our systems are back online as a precaution after the temporary shutdown of our systems and that the incident has now stopped," quoted Reuters CWT.

"While the investigation is at an early stage, we have no evidence that personal data / customer and travel information has been compromised."

In their ransom note, the hackers claimed to have stolen two terabytes of CWT data, including invoice files, financial reports, security documents, and employee personal information such as email addresses and salary information.

They also claimed to have "information about their customers such as AXA Equitable, Abbot Laboratories, AIG, Amazon, Boston Scientific, Facebook, J&J, SONOCO, Estee Lauder, and many others" Tweet by Jameswt, the cyber security expert who discovered the CWT violation.

According to the Reuters report, the company immediately informed the U.S. law enforcement and European data protection authorities.

The hackers initially claimed $ 10 million in Bitcoin to restore the CWT files and delete all the stolen data. The company, severely affected by the new corona virus, was only able to settle for $ 4.5 million.

CWT, formerly known as Carlson Wagonlit Travel, is the fifth largest travel company in the United States. The company, which manages 33% of the companies in the S&P 500 stock index, had sales of $ 1.5 billion in 2019.

Ransomware attacks are reported to cost companies billions of dollars in extortion payments each year.

What do you think of CWT paying the $ 4.5 million ransom? Let us know in the comments below.

Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

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