A senior executive in Australia has reportedly been victimized after the company they work for was pressured by online hackers into paying a ransom in bitcoin worth $14,000 earlier this year.

According to a report by the Brisbane Times, the unnamed Queensland-based business suffered an internal data theft, which was followed by the ransom demand. The company paid the amount, local law enforcement officials told the news service.

Subsequent ransom demands were ignored, police explained, a decision that is said to have prompted the hackers to escalate their intimidatory tactics. The hackers threatened to damage the executive’s reputation, and made further threats against the individual’s child after obtaining photographs of the minor.

Acting assistant commissioner Brian Kay of the Queensland Police Service told the Times that police were working with other law enforcement agencies to identify those behind the attacks.

“This is a very serious attack on an organization and quite traumatic for the business, the victim and his family,” he said.

He stressed that businesses should never give in to ransom demands, stating that local companies should heighten their existing cyberattack countermeasures and report any incidents to the police.

Kay acknowledged that in many cases, firms are reticent about coming forward about hacks because of the potential harm that could be done once they are made public.

Hacked symbol image via Shutterstock

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