Sunday 26 January 2020

US firm secures High Court injunction here over '$6m blackmail'

Cyber case: Jim O’Callaghan told the court the firm is based in the US. Photo: Tom Burke
Cyber case: Jim O’Callaghan told the court the firm is based in the US. Photo: Tom Burke

Aodhan O Faolain

A company that claims it is being blackmailed by hackers seeking $6m (€5.3m) has secured an emergency High Court injunction aimed at removing confidential information posted about it on the internet.

Southwire Company LLC secured a temporary order against what are believed to be two Polish nationals and an Irish-registered company that are all allegedly linked to a website publishing confidential information about it.

The company does not say the individuals or the corporate entity named in its proceedings are behind or involved with the cyber attack.

At the High Court in Dublin, Jim O'Callaghan SC, appearing with Anthony Thuillier BL, said his client is based in the US state of Georgia, manufactures cable and wiring and employs thousands of people.

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Counsel said that on December 9, Southwire was the subject of a cyber attack, resulting in many of its computer files being encrypted.

The hackers, whose identities, counsel said, are unknown, demanded a payment in the online Bitcoin currency equivalent to just over $6m to decrypt the files.

No ransom payment was made, and the company sought expert advice on how to deal with the situation.

The "criminal act" against Southwire is being investigated by the FBI, he said.

Counsel said the attackers became impatient with the refusal to pay the ransom.

The court was told that in recent days the attackers had posted confidential information contained in the company's files on a website.

Counsel said Southwire was extremely concerned about this and was seeking orders from the Irish High Court after its investigations revealed that the nine-digit IP address of that website is registered to a company called World Hosting Farm Ltd (WHFL).

Janusz Dybko, with an address c/o New Mallow Road, Cork, is listed as being the contact person in regards to that particular IP address, which is owned by WHFL, counsel said.

WHFL, which counsel said is listed as having being dissolved, has a registered addresses at New Mallow Road, Cork, and more recently at Dawson Street in Dublin. The owner and director of the company is listed as an Artur Grabowski, of St Budzynskiego, Slupsk, Poland, counsel said.

The company's secretary is listed as a firm called Admiral Tax Ltd, with a current registered address at Fairview, Clontarf, Dublin.

Counsel said its previous address was listed as the same address as WHFL's Cork address.

The company wrote to Mr Grabowski, Mr Dybko and Admiral Tax asking them to cease and desist from hosting anything displaying the confidential information taken by the hackers. No reply to those demands was received.

As a result, the company sought injunctions against those three parties as well as persons unknown.

The injunction requires the defendants to remove all data relating to Southwire and its customers from the website.

The order also compels the defendants to hand over data taken from Southwire, and that no further material from the firm be published online or anywhere else.

The temporary injunction was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty who made the matter returnable to a date in mid-January.

Irish Independent

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