At a Glance | September 11

Posting Takes Credit for Massive Hack of Equifax and Demands Multi-Million Dollar Ransom

Those claiming to have infiltrated one of the major credit reporting agencies are threatening to expose the personal identification data of 44 percent of Americans unless they are paid 600 bitcoin, currently about $2.6 million. The darknet posting has yet to be verified. It said that if Equifax does not pay by September 15, they will publicized the names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers of 143 million Americans. They said, however, that they would retain the credit card numbers, a possible indication of plans to profit from their sale or use. The stolen data sells for upwards of $30 per identity on online black markets, Mark Nunnikhoven, head of cloud research for cybersecurity firm Trend Micro, told CNN. Regardless of who attacked Equifax, the breach leaves millions vulnerable to identity theft and financial fraud. It also raises questions about security measures at Equifax, which had two other hackings this year, and the other consumer credit bureaus, Experian and TransUnion.


Philadelphia Mother of 2 Gets 8-Year Term for Attempt to Support ISIS

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An apologetic Philadelphia mother was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for attempting to support ISIS by traveling overseas to fight alongside a man she had married via Skype. “I am not an evil or malicious person,” Keonna Thomas, 33, said before being sentenced September 6. “I was, I guess at one point, impressionable.” US District Judge Michael Baylson, however, said, “What I cannot avoid is that Ms. Thomas took concrete steps to go to Syria and become a martyr.” The judge added, “Her becoming a martyr means that somebody else is going to die.” Thomas had pleaded guilty after being arrested in April 2015. Her lawyers maintained that the mother of two “spent too much time on the internet,” where she had met Abu Khalid al-Amriki, an ISIS recruit in the organization’s Syrian headquarters. Prosecutors contended that Thomas started spreading online propaganda in August 2013 through aliases such as Fatayat Al Khilafah and YoungLionness. The sentence for Thomas was similar to those for two other women sentenced for terrorism-related crimes in the Philadelphia region.


Why They Fight: Interviews Uncover Motivation for ISIS and PKK Combatants

A new study that utilized frontline interviews suggests that opposing groups of fighters share common beliefs that make them willing to die for their cause. The researchers spoke with members of ISIS and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) captured in northern Iraq in 2015, as well as dozens of troops fighting against ISIS from Peshmerga or Kurdish Regional Government forces, Kurds in the Iraqi army, and Arab Sunni units. “We reveal three crucial factors: commitment to non-negotiable sacred values and the groups that the actors are wholly fused with; readiness to forsake kin for those values; and perceived spiritual strength of ingroup versus foes as more important than relative material strength,” according to the findings, published September 4 in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. The researchers also conducted 14 separate online surveys and controlled psychological experiments in which 6,649 noncombatants in Spain indicated their own willingness to make costly sacrifices. The willingness to fight and make sacrifices was associated with whether people saw themselves as having greater spiritual strength than their enemy, rather than having greater physical strength.


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