* Hacker releases email exchange revealing negotiations for
* Symantec says emails were law enforcement sting
By Frank Jack Daniel
Feb 7 Hackers sought $50,000 from U.S.
anti-virus firm Symantec Corp in return for the stolen
blueprints to its flagship products under what the company says
was a sting operation run by an undisclosed law enforcement
agency via emails.
The company said the emails were in fact between the hacker
and law enforcement officials posing as a Symantec
"The communications with the person(s) attempting to extort
the payment from Symantec were part of the law enforcement
investigation ," company spokesman Cris Paden said,
adding that no money was paid.
Paden declined to name the law enforcement agency, saying it
may compromise the investigation.
Symantec had previously confirmed the hacker, part of a
group called Lords of Dharmaraja and affiliated with Anonymous,
was in possession of source code for its products, obtained in a
2006 breach of the company's networks.
An email exchange released by the hacker, who is known as
YamaTough and claims to be based in Mumbai, India, shows
drawn-out negotiations with a purported Symantec employee
starting on Jan. 18.
The email negotiations echoed conversations in past years,
viewed by Reuters, in which police agencies directed talks
between victims and hackers.
"We can't pay you $50,000 at once for the reasons we
discussed previously," said one email from a purported Symantec
employee Sam Thomas, who offered to pay the full amount at a
"In exchange, you will make a public statement on behalf of
your group that you lied about the hack."
The hacker said he never intended to take the
money and warned he would soon release the blueprints for
Symantec's pcAnywhere and Norton antivirus products.
"We tricked them into offering us a bribe so we could
humiliate them," YamaTough told Reuters.
In recent weeks, the hacker has posted segments of code for
Norton Utilities and other programmes. A software maker's
intellectual property, specifically its source code, is its most
Symantec's Norton Internet Security is among the most
popular software available to stop viruses, spyware, and online
Symantec said the version of the source code in the hacker's
possession from 2006 no longer posed a threat to its customers
even if the full blueprint to the software is released.
After the hack was made public in January, Symantec asked
its customers to temporarily disable pcAnywhere. It later
declared it safe to use after offering free upgrades.