Filipino hackers behind AT&T attack

Four Filipinos arrested in Manila, Philippines, for hacking into U.S. telecommunications provider's database and reportedly causing almost US$2 million in losses for the telco, according to reports.

The Philippine police and the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have captured four people involved in last week's AT&T hacking incident, which resulted in the U.S. telco incurring almost US$2 million losses in fraudulent customer bills, report noted. The hackers were allegedly funded by an unnamed Saudi-based terrorist group.

According to a Reuters report last Saturday, the four hackers broke into the phone systems of some AT&T customers in an attack last Monday and made calls to expensive international premium-rate services, an unnamed source said. Telcos often end up footing the bill for these fraudulent calls, it noted.

The Philippines' Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) added in a separate statement last Thursday that the four local hackers arrested were Macnell Gracilla, Francisco Manalac, Regina Balura and Paul Michael Kwan.

The CIDG noted that the hacking activity resulted in almost US$2 million in losses for the U.S. telecommunications provider, and the money from the scams was diverted to accounts of a Saudi-based group which has been linked with the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

Jan Rasmussen, a spokeswoman for AT&T declined to comment on the US$2 million figure in the Reuters report, but said the company wrote off some fraudulent charges that appeared on customer bills.

Reuters also reported the Philippine police had said last month that weak laws against cyber crime and poor technical capabilities had made the country an attractive base for organized crime syndicates involved in online pornography, sex dens, illegal gambling, credit card fraud and identity theft.