Foreign Hackers Attack Major US Banks

Dennis Faas's picture

Over the past week major American banks -- including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo -- have faced a torrent of cyber attacks. At the moment, no one seems to know who was behind the campaign.

Besides JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, Bancorp, Citigroup, and Bank of America were also targeted by hackers. It appears the attacks did not capture any customer information, though they did affect online banking services.

DDoS Attacks Launched by Advanced Hackers

Rodney Joffe, a security expert and senior vice president of the Virginia-based Neustar Inc., says the attacks were carried out by highly advanced hackers.

"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," Joffe said. (Source:

Although highly complex, the attacks are based on a relatively simple concept: overwhelm financial websites with traffic from large numbers of remote computers in order to weaken their defenses.

This type of campaign is known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and has been used frequently by hacking organizations (such as the 'hacktivist' group Anonymous) in the past.

"The notable thing is the volume and the scale of the traffic that's been directed at these sites, and that's very rare," noted Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer at CrowdStrike Inc., a California security company. (Source:

"Innocence of Muslims" Links Dismissed by Experts

According to an unnamed U.S. official, attacks of this kind on leading American financial institutions are considered worst-case scenarios by the National Security Agency.

Meetings were reportedly held at the White House to discuss how best to trace the source of the attacks.

And while it's unclear to authorities who might have been behind the attacks, the anonymous U.S. official indicated they were probably launched from outside the United States.

Initially there had been speculation that the attacks were led by Muslim hackers angry over last month's controversial "Innocence of Muslims" YouTube video. However, most security experts doubt this theory. (Source:

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