TAIPEI, Taiwan — First Securities (第一金證券) was blackmailed on Thursday by hackers who threatened to completely disable its trading system with DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks.
The hackers asked the brokerage firm to pay 50 bitcoins (approximately NT$940,000), in an email that they sent to First Securities at around 10 a.m. on Thursday.
Local newspaper Apple Daily cited an unnamed source as saying that a DDoS attack came at around 11 a.m., stopping all electronic trades.
First Securities President Yeh Kuang-chang (葉光章) confirmed that they received the blackmail email but stressed that the firm’s trading system was only slowed down but not disabled by the attacks as reported. The firm has activated a reserve system and, while a small number of investors were affected by the attacks, the system was not paralyzed, Yeh said. He said he believed the situation would be resolved by Friday.
Yeh said the firm had reported the incident, which he said had caused no losses to the firm, to the authorities or to the investigation bureau.
Yeh also stressed that while the firm had yet to ascertain the origin of the hackers, he had preliminary ruled out the possibility that Thursday’s DDoS attacks were related to the ATM heist aimed at its sister institution — First Commercial Bank — in July. ATMs at 41 First Bank branches were hacked in the incident, with over NT$80 million believed to have been stolen. Seventeen suspects from six countries have been identified in the heist, which involved an international crime ring. The Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) issued a statement at 6 p.m. saying that First Securities suffered from an unknown online attack beginning at 10:50 a.m. and was not able to immediately recover its electronic trading system. The TWSE advised investors to use other forms of trading.
TWSE Vice President Chien Lih-chung (簡立忠) said the TWSE had informed other securities firms and that no other firms had reported similar blackmail or system problems.