Manchester United face a fine of up to £15million if they give in to cyber hackers holding the club to ransom.
MailOnline exclusively revealed that United have been the victim of a ransomware attack and called in experts to try and fight off the virus crippling their systems for the past week.
As well as facing a demand for millions of pounds from the hackers, United could also be issued with a fine of up to £15m ($20m) from the US Treasury Department if they pay up and the criminals are shown to be on a hit list detailed in new legislation introduced last month.
Manchester United will face a £15million fine if they give into a ransom issued by criminals
Although United are a UK-based company, the Glazer-owned club are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and therefore subject to US law.
The US Office of Foreign Assets Control announced last month that any company complying with ransom demands from the list of hackers – including Russia, North Korea and Iran – could be punished even if they didn’t know the true identity of the criminals involved.
It said: ‘Facilitating a ransomware payment that is demanded as a result of malicious cyber activities may enable criminals and adversaries with a sanctions nexus to profit and advance their illicit aims.
The hackers are demanding cash to release their grip on United (the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is pictured left)
‘For example, ransomware payments made to sanctioned persons or to comprehensively sanctioned jurisdictions could be used to fund activities adverse to the national security and foreign policy objectives of the United States. Ransomware payments may also embolden cyber actors to engage in future attacks.’
The UK National Cyber Security Centre have also warned United that paying the ransom does not guarantee that the hackers will keep their word and call off the attack.
As well as the ransom demand and £15m penalty hanging over them, United could also be fined up to £18m by the Information Commissioner’s Office if any of their fans’ data protection has been breached.
A ICO spokesperson told MailOnline on Friday: ‘MUFC have made us aware of an incident and we are continuing to make enquiries.’
The club have confirmed they are the target of a sophisticated cyber attack but are not commenting on the possible identity or motives of those responsible.
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