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Ransomware attackers demand $400,000 from Swiss website

A popular Swiss price comparison website has been shut down by ransomware attackers demanding $400,000 (CHF370,000) in cryptocurrencies to put it back online.

Comparis.ch, which racks up around 80 million visits a year, is used by consumers to compare prices on the likes of insurance and mortgage deals. The attack started on Wednesday and by Thursday had shut down the website, although the company said in a statement that it believed that no customer data was breached.

By Friday, after this article was first published, Comparis said the website was back in operation. A Comparis spokesman told SWI swissinfo.ch that no ransom was paid.

The identity or location of the cyber attacker is not known and the ransom demand took the form of a URL implanted in a secure area of the IT system.

Ransomware attacks appear to be getting more frequent and with greater success worldwide.

High profile cases have also been making headlines: for example, when thousands of companies worldwide, including a supermarket chain in Sweden, were paralysed by a recent attack on United States IT services provider Kaseya.

US oil and gas company Colonial Pipeline was hit in May and had to pay a bitcoin ransom to get supplies back online, although the FBI said it had since recovered most of the cryptocurrency that was paid.

Last month, the world’s largest meat processor, JBL, faced major disruption to its operations before paying a ransom demand.

In Switzerland, rail company Stadler was attacked last year and suffered confidential data being made public because it refused to pay up.

Last week, the Swiss Federal Office for Energy released a report that found several electricity providers remain vulnerable to cyberattacks, despite efforts to beef up IT defences.