Business, Economics and Jobs

US banks hit by foreign cyber attacks


A masked Lebanese secret service officer shows to the media at the Lebanese security services headquarters in Beirut on May 11, 2009 a wireless internet router found with arrested Lebanese nationals accused of spying for Israel. Israel has recently come under a string of cyber attacks from Saudi Arabia and now Gaza.



In one month, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, US Bank and PNC Pank all experienced slow downs in customer Internet service due to denial of service attacks, CNN Money reports. In some cases websites were inaccessible to users.

A denial of service attack (DDoS) saturates a network with encumbering traffic that effectively crashes a website.

Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of CrowdStrike, a security firm that is investigating the DDoS attacks, told the Austin Business Journal, “The volume of traffic sent to these sites is frankly unprecedented. It's 10 to 20 times the volume that we normally see, and twice the previous record for a denial of service attack."

Bloomberg News points out banks like JPMorgan and Bank of America boast some of the nation's most "advanced computer defenses." 

It's believed the attacks came from outside the country, but it's unclear what group or country is responsible.

Senator Joe Liberman, lead author of the Cybersecurity Act (which has yet to become law) said on C-SPAN on Wednesday he thought Iran was behind the attacks.

"I don't believe these were just hackers who were skilled enough to cause disruption of the websites," he said. "I think this was done by Iran ... and I believe it was a response to the increasingly strong economic sanctions that the United States and our European allies have put on Iranian financial institutions."

Iran has denied claims that it launched the attacks.

What has security officials worried is the sophistication and scope of the attacks.

Rodney Joffe, a senior vice president of a Virginia-based security firm, told Bloomberg News, “The nature of this attack is sophisticated enough or large enough that even the largest of the financial institutions would find it difficult to defend against.” 

The White House is following this string of cyber attacks closely.

According to The Hill, "The White House is working on an executive order" that would eventually create a system that is meant to protect US institutions from cyber attacks.