Chinese EV Company Nio Falls Victim to $2.25M Bitcoin Blackmail, Vows to Crack Down on Data Theft with Rule of Law

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Chinese EV Company Nio Falls Victim to $2.25M Bitcoin Blackmail, Vows to Crack Down on Data Theft with Rule of Law
Photo: NIO / Facebook

The hackers are running a blackmail on Nio, and are asking for Bitcoin payment in exchange for user information stolen from the EV company.

Chinese multinational automobile manufacturer Nio has become one of the latest Bitcoin blackmail victims in the dynamic tech space. Yesterday, December 20th, Bloomberg reported that the Shanghai-based electric vehicle (EV) specialist saw its user and car-sales data stolen by hackers. The report stated that the hackers sent Nio an email this month demanding $2.25 million in Bitcoin (BTC) to potentially preempt releasing the stolen data. According to internal investigations, the compromised Nio data is part of the company’s user and vehicle sales information before August 2021.

Nio Refuses to Give in to Bitcoin Blackmail

Nio decried the hack and subsequent Bitcoin blackmail in a statement that read in part:

“The company strongly condemns such unlawful acts and will not bow down to cyber crimes.”

Furthermore, the electric vehicle maker added that it had reported the incident to regulators. According to Nio, it would cooperate with law enforcement to thoroughly investigate the incident and crack down on data theft using the rule of law. In addition, Nio stated that it would assume responsibility for any potential damage suffered by its customers. Although the company did not elaborate on how it planned to take responsibility, an official statement read:

“We apologize for the impact this incident has had on our users and solemnly promise to take responsibility for any damages caused to our users as a result of this incident.”

Furthermore, the Chinese Tesla rival vowed to shore up its cyber defenses to avert a future recurrence. According to Nio:

“We will learn from the lessons and strengthen our technical strength to continuously improve the security protection of Nio’s information systems to fully protect the information security of our users.”

This incident is the second time Nio is facing a security compromise linked to crypto this year. Back in April, the Chinese EV maker reported that one of its server managers exploited his position at the company for personal gain. According to Nio, this staffer used his position to mine Ether (ETH) for more than a year.

Cybercrime on Rampage in Automotive Tech Space

However, Nio is not the first (or only) automotive giant to fall victim to cybercrime this year. Data security issues have been bedeviling several components of the sprawling tech space for a while now, especially auto manufacturers and their suppliers. For example, in August, hackers made away with around 40 terabytes of data from German multinational auto-parts manufacturer Continental AG. Reports last month stated that the compromised data might include information on Mercedes-Benz AG, BMW AG, and Volkswagen AG products.

Continental AG recently weighed in on the security compromise in a recent December update. According to the company, ongoing investigations revealed that the hackers were able to circumvent its established security measures. In addition, Continental AG also explained that these attackers were then able to plunder data from its weakened IT systems. The automotive parts manufacturing multinational concluded that the hackers infiltrated its systems using disguised malware run by an employee.

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