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Hackers Steal Two Million Tons Of Carbon Credits

January 20, 2011

A European Union source said on Thursday that hackers stole two million tons of polluting rights in a five-day raid this week on the EU’s carbon emissions trading system, according to a Reuters report.

The volume of carbon credits stolen in the online action represents just a fraction of global industrial greenhouse gas permits, but is potentially worth many millions of dollars.

The scale of the theft was revealed a day after Brussels shut all 27 national trading registries for a week.

Credits stolen just from the Czech Republic alone were worth seven million euros ($9.4 million USD).

The spokeswoman said that 14 of the 27 EU states need to boost their online security to minimum standards.

The EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is the largest multinational, greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in the world, but has repeatedly suffered security breaches.

Maria Kokkonen, spokeswoman for Danish EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said powerhouse Germany was not among them as it had already reinforced security after a previous attack.

“We very much hope that this series of incidents speeds up the process” of tightening security ahead of a planned switch to an EU-wide registry in 2013.

“The sooner states take security measures, the sooner we can reopen the system,” she stressed.

Last year a series of emails sent to trick users into giving out their passwords, a type of attack known as “phishing,” sparked panic and forced a stoppage in trading in numerous countries.

The European police organization Europol estimated a value added tax (VAT) scam on carbon credits in 2008 and 2009 brought in $6.7 million to criminals.

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