Sealand, a micro country based 12 kilometres off the coast of England, has had its website hacked with card-stealing malware. The government uses the website to sell baron, count, duke and other nobility titles to raise money for operating the country.
The malicious code called a “web skimmer” was discovered by Willem de Groot, founder of web security firm Sansec while he was analysing the infrastructure of a web skimming group active since last year. Sealand’s website isn’t alone in being infected. A French security services provider’s website is infected with the same code, De Groot told The Record,
While the malicious code isn’t working at the time of writing due to an error, any purchases made on the site since October 12 have likely been skimmed. Information skimmed includes user and payment card details for anyone who went through with a transaction.
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The micro country uses its website to sell royalty titles among other merchandise and even passports and coinage belonging to the country. In addition to this, the platform also hosts an offshore internet hosting facility or a “data haven.”
While the micro country hasn’t officially been recognised as a country yet, it sells royalty titles such as Duke, Lord, Baron and Sir for $656.53, $44.99 and $129.99, respectively. You can also become a Count or Countess for $291.99. Other items sold on the website include an identity card, the constitution, its flag and the option to register a piece of Sealand territory.
Selling online merchandise and titles online is common among small countries or local governments to help raise funds for operations.
Sealand was founded in 1967 by Paddy Roy Bates and occupies a decommissioned Maunsell Sea Fort built by the British during World War II. Sealand’s platform is called HM Fort Roughs, or Roughs Tower, and is the only structure standing in the vicinity.
Since then, the micro country has raised its football team, has had an athlete represent them on the international stage at the World Cup of Kung Fu in 2007. Sealand also holds the Guinness World Record for “the smallest area to claim nation status”, which hasn’t been recognised by any other nation or the UN. Red Bull even sponsored a skating event at the platform in partnership with Church and East.