London riots: BlackBerry workers threatened
Website hackers threaten BlackBerry employees ‘will regret it’ if manufacturer Research in Motion passes details of rioters to police
Hackers today threatened that BlackBerry employees “will regret it” if the company cooperated with authorities investigating the London riots.
In an attack on the website of BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion, a group calling itself Team Poison wrote “Dear Rim; You Will _NOT_ assist the UK Police because if u do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason at all”.
The group said that it was responding to a BlackBerry statement that said the company has “engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can”.
The hack, which appeared briefly on blogs.blackberry.com, claimed that the Team Poison group had RIM employee details and was prepared to publish them online. It claimed “if u assist the police, we _WILL_ make this information public and pass it onto rioters…. do you really want a bunch of angry youths on your employees doorsteps? Think about it…. and don’t think that the police will protect your employees, the police can’t protect themselves let alone protect others”.
In a message posted on its official Twitter account for the UK, Research In Motion (RIM) expressed sympathy over the two nights of looting and rioting that have hit parts of north and south London including Tottenham, Enfield and Brixton.
“We feel for those impacted by the riots in London,” it said.
“We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.”
Attention has focused on the firm because of the popularity of the BlackBerry Messenger application among some inner city youths. It functions as a mixture of social network and free text messaging service, allowing information to spread quickly but in relative security.
BBM messages are encrypted so that they are unintelligible to anyone except the intended recipient, but RIM has access to the master key and can be compelled to hand it to authorities under part three of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
The hackers added “we do not condone in innocent people being attacked in these riots nor do we condone in small businesses being looted, but we are all for the rioters that are engaging in attacks on the police and government…. and before anyone says “the blackberry employees are innocent” no they are not! They are the ones that would be assisting the police”.
Yesterday rumours persisted that BlackBerry would close the BBM system to assist police, but the company said this was a hoax. The same rumours re-emerged this evening, while Google was also linked with a group of online porgrammers seeking to use facial recognition technology to identify rioters.