Leading US banks targeted in DDoS attacks

Filed Under: Denial of Service

Bank. Image from ShutterstockAttacks against the websites of leading banks in the United States have the banking and financial services industry on edge.

The Financial Services ISAC (Information Sharing and Analysis Center) set its Threat Level to “High” on Wednesday, September 19, indicating a high risk of cyber attacks.

That proved prophetic, as websites for banks including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo suffered outages in recent days that some are attributing to politically motivated hacktivist groups.

A string of statements posted online in the last week has claimed responsibility for the attacks in the name of a Muslim hacking group calling itself Izz ad-Din al Qassam Cyber Fighters.

The group has claimed responsibility for attacks on the New York Stock Exchange, Bank of America and Chase last week. This week brought attacks against Wells Fargo, US Bank and PNC.

Wells FargoWells Fargo used its Twitter account to apologize for service interruptions on Wednesday and said it was working to "quickly resolve this issue." Most of the targeted banks were back online and operational Thursday.

The events prompted U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to use an interview on C-SPAN to point the finger of blame at the Iranian government and its elite Quds Force.

Lieberman said he believed the attacks were in retaliation for attacks on that country’s nuclear program, though he didn’t offer any evidence to support his claim. Gholam Reza Jalali, the head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization, denied that the country was behind the attacks in a statement to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

Public statements on Pastebin taking credit for the attacks don’t mention Iran’s nuclear program as a motivation.

However, they do mention the roiling controversy about the anti-Islamic film "Innocence of Muslims" that has provoked riots and civil unrest throughout the Muslim world.

"These series of attacks will continue until the Erasing of that nasty movie from the Internet," one statement reads.

Of course, as is always the case, it was impossible to verify the authenticity of any of the statements posted online or their connection to whomever is responsible for the attacks against the banking websites.

Politically motivated hacks – or hacktivism – have been on the rise in recent years, with the activities of Western-based groups like Anonymous and Lulzsec drawing attention to the doings of ideologically motivated hacking crews.

But the phenomenon isn’t limited to Europe and the United States.

Politically aligned hacking groups are also common in Asia and the Middle East. Notably: a group called Electr0n defaced Libya’s top level domain with messages opposed to then-dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Bank image from Shutterstock.

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7 Responses to Leading US banks targeted in DDoS attacks

  1. hagar · 1111 days ago

    why blame it on Muslims? there are plenty of folks that hate Wells Fargo right here at home!

    • Clint Davis · 1110 days ago

      Ummm... Because, muslims took credit for the attacks.

  2. James.Anony · 1111 days ago

    I told this hacker to try and DoS the tor official site
    but he complained saying that the IP kept changing
    So i was like lmao :D

    Then i told him to run a scan of exploits on prevx site
    and he said he couldn't find any!

  3. Ruud Dé Brûíñ · 1110 days ago

    Just today similar attacks on Dutch banks were discussed here in the media. The theory here is that these attacks are done by East European criminals for a ransom. The moment the banks pay up the attack stops. Of course no confirmation is ever given. The only thing one knows is that one's bank is offline due to a 'technical problem'.

  4. Brian Wechsler · 1110 days ago

    An interesting article would be how to fight back. Presuming the group that claimed responsibility did it, how could they be traced and how could they be eliminated? With a powerful enough computer would that be possible?

    • rosignol · 1097 days ago

      The group claiming responsibility says they're a part of Hamas.

      The Israelis might have some ideas.

  5. user123 · 1079 days ago

    Please visit http://www.ddosblog.com for consolidated view of recent DDoS attacks.

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About the author

Paul is a Boston-based reporter and industry analyst with more than a decade of experience covering the IT industry, cyber security and hacking. His work has appeared on threatpost.com, The Boston Globe, salon.com, NPR's Marketplace, Fortune Small Business, as well as industry publications including ZDNet, Computerworld, InfoWorld, eWeek, CIO , CSO and ITWorld.com. Paul got his 15 minutes as an expert guest on The Oprah Show - but that's a long story.