Nokia paid blackmailers in car park over Symbian OS, say Finnish police

18 Jun 2014

Nokia's office in Tampere, Finland, via Wikimedia Commons

Finnish telecom company and former industry giant Nokia has reportedly admitted to paying criminals €7m six years ago after they blackmailed the company by threatening to release the source code for its then-new operating system Symbian.

Finnish TV channel MTV first broke the news, reporting that Finnish police had begun an investigation into the alleged blackmailing.

According to Reuters, the criminals had managed to gain access to Nokia’s encryption key, which gave access to its earlier Symbian operating system. Make this source code public could have put the entire company’s future in jeopardy. Nokia would have lost all control over Symbian and anyone with the right coding skills could reproduce their own version.

Nokia contacted the police about the matter and subsequently agreed to pay the €7m ransom by leaving it in a bag in car park in the city of Tampere, but the police somehow managed to lose track of the criminals once they picked up the money.

At the time, both Nokia and Apple shared an equal 50:50 in the smartphone marketshare.

Nokia has yet to formally discuss the incident.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic