Hacked: Hacking Finance


London Processing Firm Hires LulzSec Hacker Al-Bassam

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London Processing Firm Hires LulzSec Hacker Al-Bassam


This article was posted on Thursday, 18:06, UTC.

Hacking can pay. Just ask Iraqi-born hacker Mustafa Al-Bassam who was sentenced to 20 months in prison for computer misuse. Secure Trading, a processing firm based in London’s Canary Wharf, has hired him to act as a security advisor, according to Business Insider.

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Al-Bassam — who reportedly hacked Sony, FBI affiliate Infragard, and fox.com — will act as a security advisor on Secure Trading’s technology and services, including a blockchain research project called “Trustery.”

Working With Top Management

Al-Bassam will work alongside senior management, including Kobus Paulsen, chairman and founder, Ian Hughes, chief technology officer, and Gerald Kitchen, chief operating officer.

Once part of the LulzSec hacker group and nicknamed “tFlow,” Al-Bassam told Business Insider that he receives job offers periodically from companies that want to carry out “penetration testing” on their systems. He said the Secure Trading offer was the most flexible one to date.

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Hacked cited LulzSec – Lulz Security abbreviated – as the third most notorious hacking group this past September. LulzSec formed as an Anonymous spinoff after the HBGary Federal hack of 2011. Its motto was  “Laughing at your security since 2011.” The group announced itself with a hack against Fox.com, then Sony Pictures in 2011. The group took the CIA website offline.

Also read: 10 most notorious hacking groups of all time

Working While In School

Because he is studying for a computer science degree at Kings College London, Al-Bassam will only work part time at Secure Trading. He said he might join Secure Trading full time when he graduates. His undergraduate course ends this year.

Al-Bassam said the financial services industry has been behind the curve in security.

He said he doesn’t think he is only being hired on account of his teenage hacking exploits. He considers those exploits as interesting experience that was neither negative or positive.

The Trustery project was established to help commercialize blockchain technologies and improve the security and visibility of online payments.

Company Welcomes Hacker

“There are very few experts in blockchain technology, and we’re very lucky to have Mustafa on board. By developing this project we hope to use his skills and create technology to help make the world of e-commerce safer for thousands of customers,” Paulsen said in a statement.

The company declined to comment on Al-Bassam’s salary.

Al-Bassam previously admitted two computer crime charges relating to notorious hacker collective Lulzsec, The Daily Mail reported in April of 2013.

During attacks on Feb. 1, 2011, members of that group hijacked computers to overwhelm the systems of Sony and News International, a newspaper publisher.

Al-Bassam also pleaded guilty to a hacking campaign that saw data stolen from the systems of organizations including Nintendo, 20th Century Fox, the NHS, and the Arizona State Police. Prosecutors dropped two further charges.

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Lester Coleman

Lester Coleman

Lester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.

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