Cyberterror: The next time you put your card in the machine- be afraid, be very afraid

PUBLISHED: Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:40:19 GMT

By Chris Bishop.

The next time you put your credit card into the machine, be afraid, be very afraid. Ogenene man’s terrorist can be another man’s cash cow, according to two of the world’s leading experts on cyber-terrorism.

Retired  four star general, in the US Marines, John Allen, a former commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Forces, and Karin Von Hippel, a former senior adviser to the US Department of State, who worked on security for the United Nations and European Union in Somalia and Kosovo, spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Wednesday. They painted a bleak picture of threats and radicalism lurking on the dark web.

“I wouldn’t put my credit card into a machine today. This is happening right now,” says Allen when I asked him about how far away were we from cyber-terrorism cleaning out bank accounts.

“A cyber terrorist can open a bank account on a Monday; start cleaning people’s accounts out on a Tuesday and start supplying money to their cause on a Wednesday. I saw a case of a bank in Bangladesh that was cleaned out of $80 million dollars in one day. We have to develop strong systems to defend our financial systems.”

Cyber- terrorists were becoming ever more clever and ubiquitous, said Von Hippel. The Islamic Isis movement, in Syria, attracted 40,000 volunteers from 120 countries and many of them used the internet to further their cause.

“They are all out there in the cloud and the dark web doing their work. They move so fast that it is very hard to keep up with,” says Von Hippel.

Allen said it was up to the world to combat this by spending more money of tackling the root causes of this so called cyber-terrorism.

“If we spent half as much money on easing the causes of this terrorism, as we do fighting it, we would not drive so many youths into the arms of the radicals,” says Allen.

But despite these doomsday predictions, Von Hippel pointed out that people should not panic.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Daily Update
Get the best of CNBC Africa sent straight to your inbox with breaking business news, insights and updates from experts across the continent.
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services. By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.