Barclays encryption expert charged with £25m blackmail plot

Barclays encryption expert charged with £25m blackmail plot

The former head of the encryption unit at Barclays Bank has denied charges that he threatened to expose security weaknesses in the computer system protecting Britain's eight million Barclaycard holders unless £25 million was paid to 14 named individuals, including himself.

In court proceeedings at the Old Bailey, a jury has heard that Graham Browne, who worked at one of the computer centres for the Barclaycard operation at Radbroke Hall near Chester, attempted to blackmail the bank after becoming disillusioned with his work and quitting his job last year.

Browne has denied the charges and says his threats to reveal encryption codes was "a joke". He says he only intended to expose lapse security standards at the bank.

The jury heard that Browne (57) resigned his post after the bank turned down an application for voluntary redundancy in January 2000. Soon afterwards Barclays received the first of four e-mails threatening to reveal encryption codes which, if disclosed, would endanger the security of its debit and credit card operations. The letters demanded that 14 people received payments totalling £25 million.

Browne was arrested following an investigation by City of London police. Press and the public were barred from a preliminary hearing at City of London magistrates last October at the request of defense counsel.

The trial continues this week.

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