Earlier this year, the FBI discovered a Saudi group had funded hackers to target AT&T. The FBI enlisted the help of the Philippine’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s (CIDG) International cyber-crime division (ATCCD) to investigate the attack. The group was suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations, although details were never officially disclosed.
Earlier last week, AT&T claimed to be investigating an intrusion attempt on its system. However, the company said it did not believe any accounts were compromised. Reports are now surfacing that AT&T has been working with the FBI and Philippine law enforcement to apprehend attackers, although a link between the two events has not been confirmed.
The CIDG stated, “The hacking activity resulted in almost $2 million in losses incurred by the company,” referring to AT&T’s involvement as a target of the attack.
An AT&T spokeswoman, Jan Rasmussen, denied any breach of security by claiming, “AT&T and its network were neither targeted nor breached by the hackers. AT&T only assisted law enforcement in the investigation that led to the arrest of a group of hackers.”
Jan Rasmussen’s statement seems to directly contradict the earlier statement by the CIDG and another statement by AT&T saying the company, “ended up writing off some fraudulent charges that appeared on customer bills.” Given these contradictions, it is impossible to determine to what extent AT&T’s network was hacked, if at all.
The four men arrested were Filipino and funded by a group formerly headed by Muhammad Zamir, a South East Asian militant. Zamir has a colorful history with financial ties to Al Qaeda and funding the terrorist bombing of Mumbai, India on November 26, 2008. One of the men detained was identified as Paul Michael Kwan, a suspect previously convicted of illegal militant activity in 2007.
The CIDG said suspects hacked PBX lines from various telecommunications companies to steal money and divert it into the bank accounts of terrorists. The hackers were to be paid commission, based upon how much money they could funnel to accounts.
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