A hacker has threatened three Israeli banks -- Discount, Yahav and the First International Bank of Israel -- that if they do not hand over a certain sum in Bitcoins by the end of next week, details of their customers will be sold to criminal organizations.
The hacker, who apparently sent his threat to the banks' Hebrew websites, claimed to have set up a botnet network in Israel that enabled the hacking of customers' computers, exposing details such as passwords and credit card numbers. The banks' servers were not said to be hacked. The hacker claimed to have obtained information on 3.7 million bank customers.
The three banks immediately reported the threat to the Israel Police and Bank of Israel.
The banks declined to comment on the story. However, an Israeli banking official said that, as of now, the banks do not view the threat as serious.
It is unclear why the hacker asked for Bitcoins, a currency whose value has dropped by around 60 percent in recent weeks. The hacker may think that Bitcoins have an advantage in terms of mobility. If the banks were to pay in Bitcoins, the hacker could store the money on a hard drive and make "black" purchases online.