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RECENT CYBER-ASSAULT ON BANKS IS UNLIKE ANY THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN

Source: Examiner

Posted on October 29, 2012

For weeks, a sustained hacker attack on the U.S.'s biggest banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, and Wells Fargo has partially disabled some of the country's most advanced computer systems during a cyber-assault that computer security researchers have described as "sophisticated and diverse" and "among the strongest and most complex" the world has ever seen.

The hacker group responsible has used distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, as the means to flood powerful financial-industry servers with traffic, making banks' websites unavailable to consumers and disrupting transactions. Some experts say the hackershave deployed "tens of thousands" of botnet web servers to assault the banks' computer systems, besieging their websites with up to 30 million electronic packets per second.

Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of the security firm CrowdStrike, described "the volume and the scale of the traffic that's been directed at these sites" as "very rare." According to Neustar senior VP Rodney Joffe, "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." Researchers believe that the attacks were preceded by perhaps months of planning and preparation.

Unlike prior DDoS attacks, which have been used as cover to steal clients' funds or identities, this case has had no reported thefts although many customers have allegedly experienced difficulty accessing their banks' websites, due to crashed servers, and could not pay bills or make bank transfers online.

Although officials appeared to agree that the attack is waged by a single, unknown group outside the U.S., they questioned statements by Senator Joe Lieberman that blamed Iran for the cyberattacks, cautioning that not enough information is yet available to prove or disprove Iran's involvement. Lieberman, who chairs the Department of Homeland Security, has long pushed for a U.S. war against Iran. A group called Izz ad-Din al-Quassam Cyber Fighters claimed responsibility for the cyber-assault, saying that it was in response to an offensive video depiction of the Prophet Muhammad recently uploaded to YouTube. But experts have also refuted this claim, noting that the attack was planned before the video was uploaded.

White House officials have held closed-door meetings on the escalating cyber-assault, and the Obama administration is reportedly planning to issue an executive order creating a cybersecurity program. Experts expect the attack to continue.




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