Payment Security Vendor Employs Former LulzSec Member “tFlow”
Former LulzSec member “tFlow” will be joining UK-based online payments firm Secure Trading as a security advisor.
Under his real name Mustafa Al-Bassam, 21, will be working on the company’s technology and services, including its new blockchain research project codenamed ‘Trustery.’ This project aims to create a commercial blockchain platform to enhance the visibility and reliability of online payments. Beyond the Trustery project, Al-Bassam will also work closely with Secure Trading’s cyber security sister company Cognosec.
Secure Trading approached Al-Bassam signing him on to work for the company part time while completing a computer science degree at King’s College London.
Lulz Security, which often truncated its name to LulzSec, was a computer hacking group that claimed to be behind a number of high-profile cyberattacks.
Most notoriously, the group is thought to be behind the 2011 Sony Pictures hack, which saw unreleased films and documents spread over the net.
Al-Bassam was one of six core members of LulzSec during its 50-day spree of attacks in that year. He was 16 at the time. Mustafa is now reformed and is a sought after security expert with a special focus on financial services.
Kobus Paulsen, Chairman of Secure Trading, said: “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 ecommerce safer for thousands of customers.”
As a verifiable record of digital events and/or transactions, blockchain is widely considered to be much safer than current payment methods, making it easier to verify the source of payments and reduce illegal activities such as money laundering.
“Secure Trading was established by looking forward at what the payment industry would be. Having looked at today’s market, it is clear that payments are moving away from credit cards and e-wallets, and towards cryptocurrency technology,” said Paulsen. “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 ecommerce safer for thousands of customers.”
“Cybercrime is a fast moving threat and one which all sectors, especially the financial service industry, need to get better at protecting against.” said Lord David Blunkett, non-executive director of Secure Trading. “Criminals have the resources and expertise at their disposal. If we are to protect ourselves, we have to be just as innovative as they are – we need to educate and arm ourselves against tomorrow’s threats”.
Al-Bassam is not the first LulzSec member to aid in the white hat side of the industry, as Ryan Ackroyd (Kayla) recently helped the NCA on their ‘#cyberchoices’ campaign with a video.
Nigel Harrison, Director of Business Engagement at the Cyber Security Challenge UK, said that the appointment will certainly raise some eyebrows, but there is a well-known phrase about ‘poacher turning gamekeeper’.
“Whilst cyber-crime is not a victimless crime, we do need to support rehabilitation and the principle of giving people a second chance,” he said. “But we should not lose sight of the fact that the best way into a well-paid job in this sector is by staying on the right side of the law and not to start out with a criminal record. Initiatives such as Cyber Security Challenge UK are here to support talented individuals to find such careers and inspire others to make the right study choices.
“At the end of the day, companies are ultimately responsible for their own security stance; recruitment decisions are a matter for individual organisations and have to be made for the benefit of the company, their shareholders and their clients/customers. I wish Mustafa Al-Bassam and Secure Trading every success.”