The FBI and Philippine law enforcement officials arrested four people in the Philippines this week who were allegedly paid by terrorists to hack into AT&T’s system, but the company said its system was not breached.
The four, who were arrested Wednesday in Manila, were paid by the same Saudi Arabian-based terrorist group identified by the FBI as funding the 2008 attack on Mumbai, the Philippines’ Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said in a statement. The coordinated attacks in India’s largest city claimed 164 lives and wounded at least 308. The CIDG said the hacking activity resulted in “almost $2 million in losses incurred by the company.”
The suspects hacked the trunk-like PBX (private branch exchange) phone lines of different telecommunications companies, including AT&T, the CIDG said. Money stolen in the hacks was diverted to bank accounts belonging to the terrorists, who paid the Filipino hackers on commission, the group said.
The four allegedly worked for a group originally run by Muhammad Zamir, a Pakistani arrested by the FBI in 2007 who was associated with Jemaah Islamiah, a Southeast Asian militant group with links to Al Qaeda. The FBI requested the CIDG’s assistance in March after discovering the hacking group had targeted AT&T in the U.S., the CIDG said. The AT&T said it thwarted an attempt to steal mobile customer data and that no accounts were breached.