Your Credit Card Could be Funding Terrorism



It is hard to pick up a tech publication without finding a story about another security breach that has compromised credit card information. According to Identity Theft Resource Center there were 167 data breaches in the first three months of this year. At least 8.3 million records containing sensitive information were potentially compromised in the same time period.

One Recent Event: Data from 4 Million credit cards stolen. Recently, Hannaford announced what security experts call a sophisticated attack on their computer network that resulted in the theft of credit and debit card account information.

When we think of credit card data theft and fraud you don't think about terrorism - but that is indeed the case. Al Qaeda is a skilled practitioner at using the Internet for a multitude of reasons. According to FBI Director Robert Mueller, "The Internet has been used by the likes of Al Qaeda to recruit, to train, to communicate." The arrest of Al Qaeda's top cyber terrorist provided hard evidence of their use of stolen credit card data for funding. In one case, terrorist groups use the stolen credit card information to purchase $3 million of materials to carry out terrorist attacks. Al Qaeda's top cyber terrorist 23 year old Younes Tsouli (online name - Irhaby007), recently admitted conspiring to defraud banks, credit card companies and charge card companies.

For additional information about terrorist cyber attack capabilities you may want to download this CRS Report to Congress titled: Terrorist Capabilities for Cyber Attack.

Overview and Policy Issues:

The game has changed! Information security as it relates to sensitive data, like credit card information, has now risen because of the link to terrorist financing. Imagine the psychological impact if you were to find your credit card was used to finance a terrorist attack that resulted in the death of innocent civilians. Imagine the damage to a corporation's brand and possible backlash from their customers. Significant improvement in all aspects of security is needed to cut off this funding source.

-- Kevin Coleman

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