Hackers Are Demanding $50 Million From Apple

It could have been much worse.

You hear about companies getting hacked all the time. Equifax, MyFitnessPal, Marriott — the list goes on. Usually, it’s user data that’s stolen, and some of these hacks have compromised literally hundreds of millions of accounts.

In a hack publicized this week, Apple was the target. But unusually, it wasn’t user data that was stolen this time. It was blueprints: designs for new Apple products. And the hackers want $50 million to make them stop publishing the stolen information on the internet.

The perpetrators, a group that calls themselves REvil, didn’t actually hack Apple itself. Instead, they targeted Quanta, a supplier that manufactures parts for many of Apple’s products — especially Macbooks.

We don’t have many details on how exactly the group got into Quanta’s systems, but once they were there they stole the info and executed what’s known as a ransomware attack. Ransomware attacks can come in many forms, but in this case they seem to have grabbed the files and demanded the ransom to keep them from publishing the information online.

The $50 million demand is fairly high, and at this point it doesn’t seem likely that Apple will pay it. Many companies choose not to, even when user data is stolen, partly because paying the ransom only encourages other bad actors in the future.

For its part, Quanta says that it’s working with the authorities and has upgraded its systems in response to the attack.

Having intellectual property stolen isn’t great, and presumably neither Apple nor Quanta are thrilled by what’s happened.

But considering the high profile of the hackers’ target, this is one of those situations where things could have gone much, much worse.

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