Over the last week, there has been a series of denial-of-service or DDOS attacks on the websites of a number of U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. Wells Fargo was attacked on Tuesday as a group Izz as-Din al-Qaslam Cyberfighters posted a manifesto on the Internet claiming the attacks were in response to the controversial “Innocence of Muslims” video.
Though Izz as-Din al-Qaslam is known to be the name of the military wing of Hamas, it is not known whether this present ‘cyberfighter’ group belongs to the same organization. In fact, last week in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Liberman said “I think this was done by Iran and the Quds Force.” The Quds Force is a super-secret Iran military unit attributed with organized terrorist activity.
On Wednesday, U.S. Bancorp was hit and Tom Joyce, the U.S. Bank spokesman said the DDOS attack was similar to that on other banks and “We are working very closely with federal law enforcement.” Apparently, Pittsburgh-based PNC is expected to be the next victim. PNC spokesman Fred Solomon told the media, “We’ve seen the posting” by the group and “We’re taking appropriate measures.”
However, though the FBI and Justice Department have not yet commented on the origin of the attacks, Joe Lieberman says, “I don’t believe these were just hackers.”
However, in a bulletin issued on September 17 the FBI had notified of “a new trend in which cyber criminal actors are using spam and phishing emails … to compromise financial institution networks and obtain employee login information.”
According to the FBI bulletin, of late, hackers have been using DDOS as distractions while logging into bank systems and falsely using credentials of bank executives to transfer funds. While these have occurred mostly at small banks and credit unions so far, there have also been such incidents at big banks.
The week-long series of DDOS attacks is being taken extremely seriously by government authorities and financial institutions, as it can destroy both operations and customer confidence nationwide, and can also ruin the economy if hackers could reach critical vulnerabilities in electronic systems.