Hackers Demand $2 Million In BTC From Chinese Electric Car Maker NIO

Bitcoin is becoming one of the top cryptocurrencies demanded by cybercriminals in exchange for information they steal from companies.

In the auto manufacturing industry, data security issues have become a major concern.

As companies allocate large amounts of money to fortify their defenses, so do the bad guys who also employ the latest tech to get what they want.

On Tuesday, cybercriminals broke into NIO Inc’s database and acquired user and vehicle sales information, the company said, as reported by various news outlets.

Hackers On The Move To Get Their Bitcoin

The incident marks the latest move by bitcoin hackers to infiltrate databases of the global auto industry.

NIO, based out of Shanghai, is a Chinese multinational company that focuses on the design and development of electric cars.

As information is vital to any company’s reputation and security, owners will do everything in their power to prevent an untoward incident from blowing up and causing more damage.

This includes agreeing to demands by paying ransom money in the form of crypto to hackers so that sensitive information don’t fall into the wrong hands.

For NIO’s part, the company says it strongly opposes submitting to hacker demands and instead reported the matter to the authorities.

Image: Vicki Thompson

The $2.25 Million BTC Blackmail

According to NIO, the hackers are demanding $2.25 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) via email for the stolen data. Failure to pay would result in the information being released to the public.

In a statement, NIO said:

“The company strongly condemns such unlawful acts and will not bow down to cyber crimes.” 

NIO said it deeply regrets the incident and vowed to take accountability for any potential damages to customers.

A portion of the car manufacturer’s user and vehicle sales data prior to August last year was compromised, according to an internal inquiry.

The demand for Bitcoin ransom comes regardless of the fact that China has outlawed cryptocurrency transactions. In addition, the use of cryptocurrency for ransom has surfaced as a regulatory problem.

BTC total market cap inched down at $324 billion today | Chart: TradingView.com

Will Banning Crypto Solve The Problem?

NIO is a key rival of American electric car builder, Tesla Inc, which is led by its CEO Elon Musk.

The Shanghai-based stock was down almost 5% during early morning trade but has since recovered some of its losses, and is now up more than 3%. NIO stock, valued at nearly $20 billion, is down 60% year to date.

One major drawback of paying a bitcoin ransom is that it encourages criminals to improve their techniques, thus strengthening the ability of ransomware gangs to hit more prominent targets.

However, there is a lot of debate in the cyber security community about whether or not outlawing cryptocurrencies is the best way to prevent criminals from wreaking havoc on the automotive and other industries.

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