AT&T Hack Leads to Bigger Push for Cyber Crime Prevention Bill

A recent hacking incident for AT&T led Philippine officials to urge the United States passing of the Cyber Crime Prevention Bill.

This bill that is still pending in Congress would make it easier to locate other cyber crime criminals around the world.

Sen. Edgardo J. Angara of the Philippines voiced his concerns over cyber crime protection.

"Measures to fight these online crimes must be put into place as soon as possible to protect the millions of Filipinos who use the Internet on a regular basis. This threat to their civil liberties must be taken very seriously with a comprehensive set of laws concerning the World Wide Web,” said Angara.

Senate Bill No. 52 is titled under "An Act Defining Cybercrime, Providing for Prevention, Investigation and Imposition of Penalties Therefore and for Other Purposes." It was last re-filed in the Fifteenth Congress of the U.S.

It now awaits the final Reading in the parent committees before its due passage.

Four hackers were recently arrested in the Philippines for stealing funds from AT&T customer accounts to fund terrorist groups.

According to police officials in the Philippines, Macnell Gracilla, 31, Francisco Manalac, 25,Regina Balura, 21, and Paul Michael Kwan, 29, were involved in the hacking affair.

These suspects allegedly hacked into AT&T business accounts. They then gained remote access to the telephone operating systems of an unspecified number of AT&T clients. The phone numbers derived from this method helped pass on revenue to the suspects.

The Philippines Criminal Investigation and Detection Group offered an official statement.

"CIDG director, Police Director Samuel D Pagdilao Jr. said that last night’s operation stemmed from the complaint of AT&T, a US-based telecommunication company and the FBI regarding the activities of Filipino hackers who hacked the system of AT&T. The hacking activity resulted to almost $2-million in losses incurred by the company,” said the CIDG statement.

"Pagdilao said that armed with several search warrants, members of the CIDG’s Anti-Transnational and Cyber Crime Division (ATCCD) and FBI agents struck at several target areas in Metro Manila last night that resulted in the arrests of four suspects and the confiscation of computer and telecommunication equipment believed to be used by the suspects in their hacking activities,” the CIDG statement added.

The males in the group of hackers reportedly sent the stolen funds to a terrorist organization with links to Al-Qaeda. The terrorist group, "Jemaah Islamiyah," is responsible for the 2002 bombings in Bali that took the lives of 202 people.

Paul Michael Kwan was previously arrested in 2007 over the suspected funding of other terrorist groups.

AT&T said it refunded the customers affected by this hacking scam. The company said its network "were neither targeted nor breached by the hackers."

CIDG director and police director Samuel D Pagdilao is urging U.S. officials to pass the bill to keep more frauds from occurring again.