UK online payments processor Protx has spent the week struggling to fight a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack by a gang of cyber criminals running an extortion racket.
Up to four million online card payments could have been disrupted this week after the gang bombarded Protx's servers with hundreds of thousands of messages, which prevented customers from processing payments. Protx says no credit card details had been compromised.
According to a Finanial Times report, the attackers demanded that Protx pay almost £5500 for the attacks to stop.
Protx says the assault started on Sunday night, increasing in intensity until Thursday, with the majority of the attacks originating from the US.
The company says it implemented a system on Monday specifically designed to combat DDOS attacks. In a statement on its Web site, Protx says services were fully operational throughout yesterday.
Protx is the latest in a line of Internet firms to be targeted by cyber criminals. Worldpay's systems have been hit at least twice in the last year. Last week online gaming site Blue Square was also targeted by online extortionists who demanded almost £5000 to stop thousands of spam emails being sent out in its name. US electronic payments processing firm Authorize.net was hit by a similar attack in September after the company had received an extortion letter from hackers.
In July this year the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) and its counterparts in the Russian Federation arrested members of a Russian gang suspected of running a global extortion racket targeting online bookmakers.