War on Iraq gives boost to criminal syndicates
Thousands of e-commerce servers with credit card databases and customer addresses have been attacked by anti-war and pro-Islamic hackers since March 19, 2003. This is proving to be a useful lever for criminal syndicates with a global reach, who are engaged in routine surveillance and reconnaissance activities on Internet credit card sales points as well as susceptible individuals and small groups within financial services.
Senior sources within financial services in Europe, Middle East and Africa have brought it to the attention of the UK-based mi2g Intelligence Unit that employees with potential anti-American feelings have been targeted by global crime syndicates this month to extract sensitive information about trading patterns, merchant IDs and customer account numbers.
The abnormal level of probing based on invoking common religious and cultural ties between the interlocutors coincides with the launch of the War on Iraq and a strengthening wave of anti-American sentiments.
The War on Iraq has intensified the activity of criminal syndicates as they participate in mass identity and credit card theft as well as trade in counterfeit and contraband goods. On the surface the friendly requests to insiders are made by criminals on the basis of engaging the susceptible individual to participate in charitable religious or cultural causes, but the real agenda is to garner the identities, account and credit card numbers and financial transactions of a large and disparate sample of customers handled through the targeted individual.
Once equipped with stolen electronic alter egos, criminal syndicates are crossing borders without detection and are financing trade in contraband goods and illicit materials in return for cash or weapons. The war zones of Israel/Palestine, Kashmir, Turkey/Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan and their neighboring countries in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa are all affected by the overwhelming force of global crime syndicates camouflaged in the barrage of anti-American cyber warfare and hacktivism.
"Some of the global crime syndicates involved are larger and more spread out than the multi-nationals being targeted at present," said DK Matai, mi2g chairman. "Their ability to synchronize and carry out criminal actions at a particular hour across the globe is extremely sophisticated."
The worldwide economic damage caused by digital attacks in March is estimated to be between $2.5 and $3.2 billion so far. The overall economic damage from digital attacks and malware like the Slammer worm is estimated to be between $17 and $20.8 billion in 2003 up until the end of March, according to research conducted by mi2g Intelligence Unit.
mi2g has been collecting data on overt digital attacks going back to 1995 via the SIPS (Security Intelligence Products and Systems) database. The SIPS database has information on over 163,000 overt digital attacks and 6,500 hacker groups. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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