Latitude refuses hacker’s ransom demand

Latitude Ransom Refusal

Latitude Financial has declared its refusal to pay a ransom demanded by hackers behind one of Australia’s biggest corporate data hacks.

The financial services group revealed today it had received a ransom demand from hackers behind the attack – a breach resulting in the loss of more than 14 million customer records, including 7.9 million Australian and NZ licence details.

“Latitude will not pay a ransom to criminals”, said recently appointed Latitude chief executive Bob Belan in a statement.

“Based on the evidence and advice, there is simply no guarantee that doing so would result in any customer data being destroyed and it would only encourage further extortion attempts on Australian and New Zealand businesses in the future,” Belan added.

Latitude stressed that its decision remains consistent with the Federal Government’s position on ransom payments.

“We will not reward criminal behaviour, nor do we believe that paying a ransom will result in the return or destruction of the information that was stolen,” the company said.

“In line with advice from cybercrime experts, Latitude strongly believes that paying a ransom will be detrimental to our customers and cause harm to the broader community by encouraging further criminal attacks.”

Latitude, which currently services upwards of 2.8 million customer accounts, confirmed that it has not detected suspicious activity within its systems since Thursday, 16 March 2023 – the first time news of the breach was publicly announced by the company.

The credit card and loans company has also announced that it has recommenced new customer originations, suspending the service in late March in an effort to help contain the breach.

The newly appointed Belan, who replaced former chief executive Ahmed Fahour earlier this month, said the company remains focused on “contacting every customer whose personal information was compromised and to support them through this process”.

“In parallel, our teams have been focused on safely restoring our IT systems, bringing staffing levels back to full capacity, enhancing security protections and returning to normal operations.

“I apologise personally and sincerely for the distress that this cyber-attack has caused and I hope that in time we are able to earn back the confidence of our customers.”