Foreign hackers have defrauded a considerable sum, reportedly nearly four hundred million ISK (over US $3,000,000), from Icelandic power company HS Orka. CEO Ásgeir Margeirsson says it was clearly a carefully planned crime. Although most of the funds are expected to be recovered, a police investigation is ongoing.
HS Orka’s staff realized a few weeks ago that the company’s computer system had been broken into and that significant funds had been pilfered. The case was reported in the local news today while police authorities both in Iceland and abroad are working to recover the funds, which Fréttablaðið reported to be a staggering sum of nearly 3.2 million US dollars. In an interview with mbl.is, Ásgeir would not confirm or deny the amount stolen.
HS Orka operates two geothermal plants that are located in Svartsengi at the sight of the famous Blue Lagoon and Reykjanes, just west of the Keflavik International Airport. The company is privately owned by both Icelandic and foreign shareholders. Around half of the company’s shares are owned by local pension funds.
Because this is a serious police matter, CEO Ásgeir Margeirsson naturally wants to avoid disclosing any information on how the thieves managed to pull off the robbery for the time being but revealed that it was HS Orka’s employees who discovered the fraud.
Ásgeir says that HS Orka’s work processes have been thoroughly examined to ensure that this kind of electronic break-in cannot happen again. Fortunately, employees’ quick reaction means that HS Orka has reason to believe they will recover a “considerable part” of the stolen funds. When asked whether the recovered money can be considered more than half the amount stolen, Ásgeir simply replies: “presumably”.
“It was exceedingly well-organized. Very elaborate and through this experience we have come to realize that the threat of this kind of theft is much more common than one might previously have thought,” says Ásgeir.
“We have every reason to be wary and therefore as far as possible we must create work processes and systems that will prevent this kind of break-in and theft from reoccurring.”
According to a HS Orka press release, the theft will have no impact on HS Orka’s conditions of operation, daily operations, clients or suppliers.