Sophisticated and diverse tools that point to a carefully coordinated campaign were used in a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on major US banks recently.
According to Reuters, the attackers were highly knowledgeable about the defensive equipment used by the banks and likely spent months on reconnaissance, with some researchers saying that the assaults were among the strongest and most complex the world has seen to date.
The campaign of DDoS attacks has seen customers of top US banks including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, US Bancorp and PNC Financial Services reporting having trouble accessing their websites.
SC Magazine US reported in mid-September that Bank of America was suffering from an attack that was causing sporadic issues that affected access for customers. Then in another story nine days later, it claimed that DDoS attacks had been made against Wells Fargo, PNC Bank and US Bancorp.
Security researchers said the botnets that the attackers were using were much more powerful, as they comprised web servers, rather than PCs. Tom Kellermann, vice president of Trend Micro, said that 'tens of thousands' of servers were involved.
The report also claimed that the attacks could have involved as many as 30 million packets per second at the websites. Scott Hammack, chief executive of Prolexic, said that volume "would overwhelm almost anyone, including large telecommunications companies".
Sources familiar with the bank attacks have previously told Reuters that they could be part of a year-long cyber campaign waged by Iranian hackers against major U.S. financial institutions and other corporate entities. A group that calls itself the Cyber Fighters of Izz ad-din Al Qassam has claimed credit for the recent bank attacks, declaring them a protest against the anti-Islam video posted on YouTube.
Following reports of Iranian attacks on US banks, the head of Iran's civil defence organisation, Gholam Reza Jalali, said that westerners are trying to portray Iran as a threat in cyber space to achieve their goals. He said that reports were aimed at demonising Iran in cyber space to portray the country as a global threat to cyber security and justify the US and Israeli cyber attacks on Iran.
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