clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nokia reportedly paid a secret multimillion dollar ransom to Symbian code thief

New, 52 comments

Back in the late 2000s, Nokia apparently found itself the target of a high-stakes extortion attempt from persons threatening to release code that could allow malware to spread across its Symbian operating system — then the leading smartphone OS. According to MTV Finland (unrelated to the music-focused MTV), Nokia paid several million euros in late 2007 or early 2008 to blackmailers who had obtained a key that would allow any developer to sign their Symbian apps, making their apps appear to have been properly vetted and granting them access to deeper areas of the phone. Both MTV and Reuters confirmed the extortion attempt with Finnish authorities. Nokia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The leak was potentially disastrous, and Nokia reportedly decided to pay up in hopes of both stopping and catching the culprits. MTV reports that Nokia was assured that paying would result in the key not being abused, but naturally Nokia brought in law enforcement as well. It reportedly paid the money by dropping it off in an amusement park's parking lot — but somehow, the culprits retrieved the money and managed to get away. The case was reportedly dropped afterward and remains unsolved. That may suggest poor handling of the case, but Nokia's payment apparently was enough to make this surprising story a footnote in Symbian's history rather than what could have been a dramatic tarnish.