Five banks in Russia have undergone a DDoS-attack according to Artyom Sychev, Deputy Director of the General Directorate of Security and Information Protection of Russia’s Central Bank.

Bitcoin extortion

However, the regulator had warned banks in advance about the cyber attack planned for September26.

"Last Saturday monitoring channels received information that, obviously, several major financial institutions will be attacked,” said Sychev. “We contacted with banks and gave them the possible details of how the attack will take place.”

Banks were able to escape harm as the attack did not affect banking operations and services. Nevertheless, after the attack several banks received a letter with threats and extortion.

"To prevent such acts in the future, the attackers are asking to send only 50 BTC to their Bitcoin wallet,” said a representative of the Central Bank.

However, Sychev believes that criminals’ plan was to destabilize banks and to start a panic among the customers rather than extort a ransom in bitcoin.

Central Bank of Russia

BitRouble or Prison

Cryptocurrency has been in the spotlight lately in Russia since the announcement of Qiwi’s plan to launch the BitRouble. However, on September 25 Russia’s Ministry of Finance (MinFin) has proposed changes to the cryptocurrency law, which would instill criminal penalties of up to 2 years in prison for the emission of digital currency.

Under the new bill, buying, selling and distributing cryptocurrency would be punishable with fines of 300,000 rubles (~US$4,500) or up to 360 hours of correctional labor. Furthermore, the fine will be greater (500,000 rubles (~US$7,623)) for companies and organizations that are found guilty.

Cyber attacks are becoming an increasing threat to Russian businesses and banks.  Back in July, Cointelegraph reported how hackers managed to steal information of over 300,000 Bank Saint Petersburg clients and then attempting to sell it for US$500,000 in bitcoin. And just last month, someone hacked Russian football star Alexander Kerzhakov’s e-mail account in an attempt to sell 904 letters for at least 40 bitcoins (~US$9,000) in a “private auction.”