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Nokia 'paid millions to software blackmailers six years ago'

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish telecoms equipment company Nokia paid several million euros to criminals who threatened to reveal the source code for part of an operating system used in its smartphones some six years ago, Finnish TV station MTV said on Tuesday.

The police confirmed to Reuters that they were investigating a case of alleged blackmail and that the case was still open. Nokia was not immediately available for comment.

"We are investigating felony blackmail, with Nokia the injured party," Detective Chief Inspector Tero Haapala said, but declined to give further details.

MTV said that the blackmailers had acquired the encryption key for a core part of Nokia's Symbian software and threatened to make it public.

Had it done so anyone could then have written additional code for Symbian including possible malware which would have been indistinguishable from the legitimate part of the software, MTV said.

After the blackmail attempt Nokia contacted the police and agreed to deliver the cash to a parking lot in Tampere, central Finland. The money was picked up but the police lost track of the culprits, MTV said.

In 2007 Nokia's smartphone market share was about 50 percent with the Symbian software also used then by other manufacturers.

Nokia later moved to use Microsoft's Windows software in its smartphones and Microsoft bought Nokia's entire mobile phone business earlier this year for 5.6 billion euros ($7.6 billion).

($1=0.7345 euros)

(Reporting by Sakari Suoninen; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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