RansomHub attack on Christie’s unresolved

RansomHub attack on Christie’s unresolved
An untitled Keith Haring auctioned as part of the 20th/21st Century collection at Christie's New York. Image via Christie's.
Marketplace  -   Trafficking

With the art trade’s now deep connection to the digital world, it is unsurprising that it has inherited various digital woes. Outside of the realm of digital art itself and the various pioneering endeavours in VR and AI, we’ve seen the neo-elitist sect formed by cryptocurrency become a common factor in the world of auctions along with their tumultuous values. And of course, there was no missing the omnipresent boom and fizzle of NFTs that has left institutions feeling swindled. And with the high volume of money flowing in and out of online auctions, it’s no surprise to see the likes of Christie’s targeted for extortion by RansomHub.


RansomHub is a notorious cyber-extortion group that utilizes ransomware to exploit the sensitive data of its targets. A growingly common occurrence in our constantly-connected age, it puts people in the painful position of paying to keep their email addresses, passwords, bank information, and sometimes even personal photos out of the hands of nefarious strangers. Targets are often average citizens, but with the group setting its sights on the clientele of Christie’s, the potential payday couldn’t be more lucrative.


The attack occurred late last month amidst Christie’s 20th and 21st-century auctions in New York. CEO Guillaume Cerutti downplayed the event to the clientele of the global auctioneer titan, but such cybercrimes are serious matters even when the targets are less high-profile. RansomHub threatened to leak the personal information of some 500,000 clients of Christie’s onto the dark web unless their demands were met by the morning of June 1st. However, there so far seems to have been no leak since. Whether an agreement was made out of the spotlight is unknown, but the FBI and other authorities have been involved in the situation.


While it appears that RansomHub only gained access to the passport information in this data breach, any sensitive information in the hands of extortionists is too much. Business moves along as usual with Christie’s, but there is sure to be a looming sense of vulnerability for those connected to the auctioneer in the wake of this attack.