Posts Tagged ‘cyber crime’


Money jihad news: recommended reading

April 18, 2013
  • Cyber attacks are often treated as technology news. But now it’s more about bucks than bits… more>>
  • So generous of Venezuela to have given a diplomatic passport Hezbollah agent Ghazi Nasr al Din . How many more operatives like him are immune from baggage searches at customs?  More>>
  • You’re a kidnapped Filipino, and your government won’t pay for your ransom. Why your government is right… more>>
  • The Palestinian Authority denies paying salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons.  I beg to disagree, says prisoner’s wife… more>>
  • Are the FARC and Al Qaeda partnering in a cocaine-for-cash and weapons trade? And you thought cash-for-clunkers was bad… more>>

Attacks on banks resume

March 12, 2013

Despite the track record of the 60-year Arab League economic embargo of Israel, and despite the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, some Islamic scholars have said that Islam does not permit economic warfare against infidels.

Yet when it comes to infidel banks that charge interest—a concept forbidden in Islam—many Islamists agree that banks are legitimate targets for robbery or attack, especially if the result of the action will ultimately benefit Islam.  Islamists also rationalize their assaults on Western financial institutions because they believe the banks are “controlled” by Jews.

Is it any wonder then that we’re now seeing a third wave of attacks by Islamist hackers against American financial institutions that began last fall.  From the Global Post on Mar. 7:

Muslim hackers target US banks in third round of cyberattacks

In the third round of what they’re calling Operation Ababil, Muslim hackers belonging to the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters are attacking US bank websites and demanding that more copies of the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video be removed.

Muslim hackers in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters launched the third phase of their Operation Ababil campaign against US-based banks on Wednesday, making further demands that the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims” be removed from the web.

Known to many as the Muslim world’s Anonymous, Izz ad-Din issued an ultimatum on Tuesday that their distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against American banking institutions would continue unless insults against the Prophet Mohammed were removed from YouTube.

“During runnnig [sic] Operation Ababil Phase 3, like previous phases, a number of american [sic] banks will be hit by denial of service attacks three days a week, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during working hours,” read the group’s latest statement.

Outages have been reported by customers of Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank, PNC Bank, Union Bank and Wells Fargo, according to Site Down, a website that tracks reported online outages. However, no banks have reported experiencing any issues with their online services.

“At this point, we’ve had no issues on our end,” Bank of America spokesman Mark T. Pipitone told Information Week Wednesday.

Unlike Anonymous, the Izz ad-Din Cyber Fighters seem to abide by strict, self-imposed regulations. During phase two of Operation Ababil, YouTube removed the original version of “Innocence of Muslims” from the site — as promised, the hacker collective ceased attacks once their demands were met.

But new copies of the video have reappeared on YouTube, and the Izz ad-Din Cyber Fighters say they will not tolerate more insults levied against Prophet Mohammed.

“Now at the end of one month time it is seen that other copies of the film yet exist in YouTube so we announce the Phase 3 of Operation Ababil will start this week,” read the group’s statement.

For phase three, Izz ad-Din is using a complex calculation to issue banks an exact dollar amount each will lose in the attacks. Using a combination of the video’s traffic statistics, Izz ad-Din determined that US Banks should pay $874.7 million in compensation.

A loss at that levels requires about 11 weeks of DDoS attacks.

Taking their name from a Syrian preacher that fought against French, British and Zionist elements in the Levant in the 1920s and 1930s, the collective has wrapped itself in the rhetoric of anti-imperialism.

However, the goals of the organization are now limited to removing “Innocence of Muslims” from YouTube. The insults made against Prophet Mohammed served as a catalyst for uniting the collective.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters collective is the first hacker group that acts in defense of Islam.

Since the founding of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam collective, several other Muslim hacker groups rose to prominence in attacks carried out against Israeli domains during the Israeli Defense Forces’ assault on Gaza late last year. Muslim hackers from Algeria, Morocco and Pakistan, among others, carried out DDoS attacks and defacement of Israeli domains during the cyberattack campaign.


Hacker who financed church bombing sentenced

February 13, 2013

“IT protégé” Cahya Fitrianta conspired to steal billions of rupiah with Rizki Gunawan to fund terrorism in Indonesia.  They were somewhat successful by their own standards:  bankrolling a bomb strike on a church in Solo, Indonesia, left two dead and fourteen parishioners injured.

Cahya has been sentenced to eight years for terrorism and money laundering activities.  From the Jakarta Globe on Feb. 6:

Computer Hacker Sentenced to 8 Years for Role in Terror Group

A computer hacker who accessed money from a website and then laundered it to fund terrorist activity in the Central Sulawesi city of Poso was convicted by the West Jakarta District Court on Tuesday.

Cahya Fitrianta was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay a Rp 500 million ($51,000) fine. Prosecutors had sought a 12-year sentence.

Presiding judge Erlita S. Ginting said the defendant had violated multiple articles under the anti-terrorism and money laundering laws.

“Aside from engaging in a vicious conspiracy, the defendant was also found guilty of laundering money, which he obtained from hacking the website and used the proceeds to fund military training in Poso,” said Erlita.

Cahya’s lawyer said he will consider whether to appeal.

“We will think about it. If the public prosecutor plans to appeal, we’re ready for it. But our camp cannot accept the accusation about violating an article on money laundering because there were no facts [to support it] or [data] regarding the source of the money,” Cahya’s attorney, Farid Ghozali, said after the trial.

The public prosecutor said it would appeal the sentence because it was lower than the jail term sought.

Cahya was arrested in May last year in a Bandung hotel. The defendant, along with another man, Rizki Gunawan, have been linked by police to a group known to fund terrorist activities.

Police in May arrested Rizki, accusing him of hacking a marketing firm’s website to steal money in order to fund militant training.

The duo stole billions of rupiah over two years by hacking websites, and used some of the money to fund the bombing of a church in Solo on Sept, 25, 2011.

Cahya was also previously accused of channeling money to terrorism suspect Umar Patek, who was sentenced this year to 20 years for his role in the 2002 Bali bombing.

Central Sulawesi has become a hot-bed of extremism in recent years, as terror groups seek to fund and prepare activities.


Cyber-terrorists target bank software next

February 11, 2013

After attacking banks’ websites last fall, hackers “may graduate from crude DDoS attacks to more sophisticated ones that secretly penetrate banks’ systems and then steal or delete data,” reports The Economist.

Furthermore, “If 20,000 machines started hammering British payment gateways on the last weekend before Christmas, people wouldn’t be able to shop except with cash,” warns an information technology security professor quoted in the article.  This is the second prediction or warning we have heard about potential cyber-attacks on financial targets during 2013 holiday season.

Read the full article—“War on terabytes”—here.

Banks have spent centuries perfecting physical security through alarm systems, tamper-proof vaults, armed guards, armored trucks, but they have a lot of catching up to do to guard their networks against the economic warfare being waged by overseas hackers.

Many experts and government officials blame last fall’s digital attacks (depicted in the excellent RivalHost infographic below) on Iran.  That hasn’t been proved yet, but longtime readers may recall that Iranian leaders declared 2011 as “The Year of Economic Jihad,” and that Ahmadinejad said “that economic jihad should be realized in every aspect of all Iranian’s lives.”


Under attack from Iran, banks seek federal help

February 3, 2013

Having spent millions of dollars to defend themselves from a hostile foreign power, American banks are now asking the federal government for assistance.  U.S. officials say that all options are being weighed including retaliation.  Here’s a two-minute interview on the subject with reporter Siobhan Gorman on the radio program The Wall Street Journal This Morning last month:

Hopefully they won’t have to use it, but the Pentagon would have good reasons for keeping a cyber-counteroffensive plan on its shelf.

View previous Money Jihad coverage of the allegedly Iranian-based technological assaults here, here, and here.


New front in economic warfare: business data held for ransom

January 11, 2013

The cyber-attacks originate “overseas,” often from Russia, but can Iranian-backed hackers or groups like “Izz ad-Din al-Qassam” be far behind?  Surely they can get a mullah to declare fatwa saying that holding data for ransom is permissible under Islamic law, yes?  As long as the purpose is to destroy the “infidel” Western financial system, and especially if the ransom money is used to advance jihad.  From CNN Money:

The article accompanying this video in December also said that “Security firm McAfee on Thursday released a report warning that a massive cyberattack on 30 U.S. banks has been planned, with the goal of stealing millions of dollars from consumers’ bank accounts.”


Hacking and stealing money for terrorism

January 8, 2013

Indonesian jihadists update financial strategy

The Jakarata Globe has published a good article (excerpt below) reviewing developments in terrorism in Indonesia over the past year, including an examination of “Santoso”—a high-profile terrorist.  It was Santoso operatives who committed a cyber-attack against a foreign currency exchange website to make nearly a million dollars:

As the Bali bombing trials illustrated, many Muslim fundamentalists believe that theft for jihad is permissible under Islamic law.  This hacking case also demonstrates another facet of ongoing economic cyber warfare against “infidel” banks and stock markets.

Theft and robbery

Despite lacking in striking capabilities, police discovered in June that terrorism groups might have turned to a more sophisticated method to gather funds. The finding was made after Densus 88 arrested Rizki Gunawan, who is suspected of having made Rp 8 billion ($830,000) as a result of online hacking.

A Densus 88 source said that Rizki’s hacking work had funded the bombing of a church in Solo, in September. The source also said that Rizki had taken part in paramilitary training in Central Sulawesi in January and February last year under the leadership of Santoso, who is still on the run.

During the bombing of several churches in 2000 and the first Bali bombing in 2002, funding came directly from international terror group Al-Qaeda. After the funding stopped, terrorism cells resorted to donations from their own members and sympathizers.

But the 2002 Law on Terrorism, and later the 2010 Money Laundering Law, makes this method almost impossible, prompting many terrorism cells to conduct theft and robbery to finance their attacks.

Saud said the new funding methods were devised by Santoso, who came up with the strategy after realizing that Rizki and his protege, Cahya, were IT experts. The pair decided to hack a foreign exchange trading website.

Cahya was arrested in March for financing the Solo church bombing as well as channeling money to terrorism suspect Umar Patek, who was sentenced this year to 20 years for his role in the 2002 Bali bombing.

Santoso seems to be this year’s Most Wanted Terrorist, with nearly all terrorism attacks — successful and foiled — having had some form of his alleged involvement…


Prediction for 2013: web retailers face terror hit

January 1, 2013

Author and futurist Jack Uldrich has predicted that online retailers will be a primary target for an Iranian-backed attack on Cyber Monday, 2013.  Recent cyber-attacks have already shown how Iran has targeted U.S. banks and financial institutions.  It is logical to assume they would move on to a “softer” cyber target in online retailers that may not have as robust security layers as major international banks.

From Mr. Uldrich’s website—this item is his ninth out of 15 predictions for the new year:

“Cyber Monday” Does Dark. On the Monday following Thanksgiving 2013—the largest Internet retail day of the year—a sophisticated cyber attack will be directed against the world’s top online retailers. Although no group will claim immediate responsibility for the attacks, government officials will suspect the hackers were supported by the Iranian government and were launched in retaliation for the internationally imposed economic sanctions that have throttled Iran’s economy. Days later, a top Iranian military official will become the first victim of a self-guided bullet. Neither the U.S. nor Israel will confirm its involvement in the assassination.


Money jihad renewed against 5 banks

December 18, 2012

Cyber-terrorists will attack major U.S. financial institutions according to a group called “Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.”  This would be the second major attempt at a jihadist cyber strike against American banks this year.  Rumor has it that these attacks are sponsored by Iran, and this story from Fox Business News points to a possible Hamas connection.

Hat tip to Brian @MrHappy4870 for tweeting this out.  Keep in mind as you read it that Islamists detest conventional banking because it allows for interest which Islam prohibits, because they believe the international banking system is “controlled” by Jews, and because bank transactions are denominated in “infidel” paper currencies that aren’t backed by the gold dinar and silver dirham from the days of Muhammad.  Therefore, Islamists regard bank robbery and crimes against Western financial institutions as permissible under Islamic law.

Cyber Terrorists Threaten Fresh Attacks Against U.S. Banks

Developing: A group claiming to be aligned with Islamic terrorism that launched a massive attack against U.S. bank websites in the fall has threatened another round, set to start this week.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters posted on a popular message board late Monday, saying it will target the websites of J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), U.S. Bancorp (USB), PNC Financial Services (PNC) and SunTrust Banks (STI).

A Bank of America spokesperson told FOX Business the bank is “aware of the reports of possible cyberattacks and [is] monitoring [its] systems, which are fully operational.” Some users reported the second-largest U.S. bank by assets’ website was intermittently inaccessible Tuesday.

PNC said in a Facebook post that it is “aware that some U.S. banks may be the target of a potential cyber attack.” The company said that it was not experiencing any issues, but warned clients that “this potential threat could result in high volume of electronic traffic that may make it difficult for our customers to log onto online banking.”

Spokespeople from J.P. Morgan and SunTrust declined to comment on the matter. U.S. Bancorp did not respond to requests for comment.

“In new phase, the wideness and the number of attacks will increase explicitly; and offenders and subsequently their governmental supporters will not be able to imagine and forecast the widespread and greatness of these attacks,” the posting from al-Qassam said.

The move comes as reprisal for an anti-Muslim video called ‘The Innocence of Muslims’ that was posted on Google’s (GOOG) YouTube in September. It sparked many protests across the Middle East and North Africa that have broadly cooled down in recent months.

In September and October, al-Qassam launched widespread denial-of-service attacks against a slew of banks, including the ones listed this week. DDoS attacks function by slamming Web servers will a flood of requests, with the goal of rendering them completely inaccessible or slowing access down to a crawl. Security experts and the banks said at the time customer data were not at risk. The specific methodology al-Qassam plans on using this time around remains unclear.

In the last round of attacks, security experts told FOX Business the perpetrators created a so-called “botnet” of compromised Web servers that it used to carry out the attack. The Web servers, the experts said, provided more horsepower than the personal computers because of their higher-level access to Internet infrastructure and less limiting bandwidth restrictions.

The individuals behind al-Qassam have yet to be unmasked. However, the name is a reference to the armed wing of Hamas.


Iran attempts cyber strike at U.S. financial firm

September 20, 2012

Last year, Ayatollah Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised that the new Iranian year would be “A Year of Economic Jihad.”  Now we have a better understanding of what they meant.

The Washington Free Beacon (h/t Rantburg) is reporting that Iran launched a failed cyber attack against a major U.S. financial institution:

The Iranian government recently conducted a major cyber attack on a major U.S. financial institution that a military intelligence report said is a sign Tehran is waging covert war against the West.

The cyber attack was not successful but was one of several Iranian-backed electronic strikes detected in recent months that highlights the growing threat from Tehran, a major backer of international terrorism, according to a recent report by the Joint Staff intelligence directorate, known as J-2.

“Iran’s cyber aggression should be viewed as a component, alongside efforts like support for terrorism, to the larger covert war Tehran is waging against the west,” the report, dated Sept. 14, concluded.

Iran’s hostile posture against the United States is well known. However, the Joint Staff J-2’s hawkish assessment of the Iranian threat contrasts sharply with the more conciliatory policies of the Obama administration, a defense official familiar with the report said. For Pentagon’s J-2 to acknowledge in the internal report that a covert war is underway was unusual, the official added.

Since 2009, the administration has avoided supporting the Iranian opposition groups that took to the streets to opposed rigged elections. The administration also opposes a near-term Israeli military strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities favoring instead the use of economic sanctions, which critics say have not slowed Iran’s drive to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported earlier this month that Iran is building up stockpiles of enriched uranium and continues to stonewall the U.N. nuclear watchdog on its nuclear arms-related work.

No other details were available on the previously undisclosed attempted Iranian financial cyber attack…

Also recall that author Kevin Freeman has said that leading up to the 2008 financial collapse, the NASDAQ was hacked, that Lehman Brothers was a financial target of terrorists, that German intelligence has reported financial terrorism activities since then, and that damaging the credit of Western nations was an objective of Osama Bin Laden shortly before his death.


Scam victim says Zakat Foundation took $1,300

February 6, 2012

Money Jihad has been contacted by a consumer who says his bank information was compromised, and that $1,300 was transferred out of his account to the Illinois-based Zakat Foundation without his consent in the wake of the Jan. 15 Zappos security breach.

Our tipster says that the Zakat Foundation has finally “refunded” his $1,300 after a lengthy slog, but he was still concerned about how many other people may have been affected and for what purpose the transactions were made.  Money Jihad is unable to verify the allegation against the Zakat Foundation independently, but details provided privately by the consumer about his experience are consistent with aspects of the Zakat Foundation that are unknown to the general public.

The Zakat Foundation is one of the nation’s five largest Islamic charities.  Its tax filings with the IRS indicate that its largest program expenditures overseas are in sub-Saharan Africa, where the Zakat Foundation says it is actively involved in relief camps, food distribution, and digging wells in the Horn of Africa.

Previously, Money Jihad has documented the Zakat Foundation’s cooperation with the British-based Muslim Hands, an organization identified by Israel as a member of the Union of Good network of charities that supports Hamas.  The U.S. Treasury Department has designated the Union of Good as a Hamas-funding entity.

If you have been a victim of online fraud that has resulted in an unauthorized payment to the Zakat Foundation or to any other entity, you should pursue an immediate refund through your credit card company or bank.  Charities are regulated by states, so you should also promptly file a complaint with your state’s charitable regulator (which in the case of the Zakat Foundation is the Illinois attorney general).  Alerting law enforcement may be necessary depending on the circumstances.

In this modern Internet era, you should also go public with your complaint so that fellow web users are aware of which entities are benefiting from online security breaches.  Get the word out and spare other citizens the heartache!