Reddit Faces BlackCat Ransomware Threat: $4.5 Million Demand and API Changes to Prevent Data Leak

While the data had not been made public, that may soon change. The ransomware gang known as BlackCat, also identified as ALPHV

In a targeted phishing attack back in February, Reddit fell victim to a breach that exposed internal documents, code, contracts, and some employee and advertiser information. While the data had not been made public, that may soon change. The ransomware gang known as BlackCat, also identified as ALPHV, has claimed responsibility for the hack and announced possession of 80GB of compressed data. Referred to as “The Reddit Files,” BlackCat has demanded $4.5 million from Reddit and the reversal of API price increases, threatening to leak the information.

BlackCat executed the breach by enticing employees with deceptive prompts that closely resembled Reddit’s intranet gateway. One employee unknowingly divulged their login credentials and second-factor tokens, which the hackers used to gain access. The individual promptly reported the error, suggesting that Reddit users’ personal information was not compromised.

Months later, BlackCat has emerged publicly, coinciding with widespread protests against the API price hikes that the ransomware gang is demanding to be reversed. The elevated costs have led to the imminent shutdown of popular third-party apps such as Narwhal and Apollo. Christian Selig, the creator of Apollo, estimated a yearly expenditure of $20 million to sustain the app. Developers are concerned that the removal of third-party apps may result in increased censorship and hinder revenue growth from advertisements.

During the protests, approximately 8,000 subreddits went dark in a massive show of dissent. However, Reddit remains resolute in its plans, despite the backlash. Reddit CEO Steve Hoffman expressed his perspective, stating that discontent among users arises from the transition of formerly free services to paid ones. He also proposed simplifying the removal of moderators who make unpopular decisions. While Reddit shows no indication of reversing its decision, some advertisers have temporarily paused their activities on the site in solidarity with the ongoing blackouts.

It remains unclear how this recent development will influence API prices, as Reddit has yet to respond to the demands. BlackCat alleges that Reddit disregarded their previous attempts to establish a contact in April and June, leading them to doubt the effectiveness of a public ultimatum. In their post, BlackCat expressed confidence that Reddit would not pay the ransom and anticipated leaking the data as a consequence. The situation is poised to unfold further as Reddit weighs its options and assesses the potential ramifications of non-compliance.

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