Cyber attacks on U.S. banks likely to continue, experts say
Americans should not breath a sigh of relief just because a computer hacking group said it would suspend a four-month offensive to disrupt access to more than two dozen bank websites.
Even if the al-Qassam Cyber Fighters group says it won't attack PNC Bank and other financial institutions, cyber attacks meant to disrupt commerce in the United States are likely to continue, said Jeff Bardin, a Boston cyber security consultant and expert in Middle Eastern hackers and cyber jihad.
“I think it's just basically a temporary stay of execution,” he said. “They'll find plenty of other issues to continue their activities.”
Bardin said other hackers could use the group's success as motivation to initiate attacks. Hacking software and vast networks of zombie computers for rent are becoming easier to obtain.
“There is a virtual proliferation of small arms,” Bardin said. “It's like leaving weapons on the physical battlefield. They get picked up.”
The Cyber Fighters began attacks on banks in September, claiming in statements posted to an Internet message board that they would continue until a YouTube video mocking the Islamic Prophet Muhammad was taken down. The YouTube webpage for the video says it was “removed by the user.”
The cyber attacks, called “distributed denial-of-service attacks,” flood a website with traffic, overwhelming it so that legitimate users cannot access it. Stealing personal information usually is not the goal.
In addition to PNC, the attacks hit Citizens Bank, Fifth Third Bank and Huntington Bank in the Pittsburgh region.
Many government officials and Internet security experts have said they believe the attacks were carried out by the Iranian government or at its behest.
Iran has denied involvement.
Dave Aitel, CEO of the Miami Internet security firm Immunity Inc., said everything the Cyber Fighters wrote suggested Iran was involved.
“Clearly this was state-sponsored, and the only state with an interest is Iran,” Aitel said, citing the frequent use of “proportional response” by the group to describe the attacks on banks. “Normal hackers would never use that term.”
Bardin said the attacks fit the standard mode of operation of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who “go around the world and set up proxy groups sympathetic to them.” The approach has been used in traditional warfare and terrorism, he said.
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or email@example.com.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 2014 has been among deadliest for the world’s airline industry
- Residents, search panel refine profile of Pittsburgh police chief
- Kaufman Foundation awards research grants to schools, including Pitt, CMU
- Newsmaker: Charles H. “Chip” Dougherty Jr.
- Transplant patients in limbo over coverage under UPMC-Highmark pact
- Pittsburgh police officers reprimanded in Banksville restaurant robbery
- Potentially deadly Legionella bacteria found at UPMC Presbyterian hospital
- Thousands relish thrill of Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
- N.C. churches lend helping hands in Western Pa.
- Moon school closing fought
- Moon Area board reconfigures elementary buildings, votes again to close school and explore merging with Cornell