Cyber attacks against business institutions are becoming as routine as rush hour traffic. One of the easiest, technically speaking, is DOS or denial of service. This type of mischief requires servers all round the world that are mobilized on command to ping the target business electronic interface. An analogy for this kind of attack would be if someone who hated you had lots of friends who would call your home number over and over again day and night for about a week. In such a scenario your phone would become useless and a considerable distraction. A gallon of gasoline cannot be pumped these days without involving a computer, and when it comes to banks, they live in cyber world every day all day long.
The various banks claim that nothing was broken and nothing was stolen, however let's remember that this kind of attack can also be a mask for more subtle attempts at penetration. Once the attackers breach defenses, they may simply plant a malicious code and leave hoping not to be discovered until they want to exploit the infected system to whatever end.
Nothing that is accessible by computer, internet, or electrical wires is safe. This is very big business, and several countries have justifiably bad reputations for hosting such activity. At the right time, under the right circumstances such attacks could bring a country to its knees. Let's hope the US does not become the prime example.
An Islamic group called the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Cyber Fighters claimed credit for most of the distributed denial-of-service (DoS) attacks that started Sept. 18 with Bank of America. A hacktivist group associating itself with Anonymous claimed responsibility for the DDoS against HSBC that started Oct. 18. Banks have been busy apologizing to customers for service disruptions.
PNC Financial Services CEO James Rohr, acknowledging last week on CNBC that the DDoS attacks had "really pummeled us," noted cyberattacks "really disrupt this country."
That followed U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's lengthy speech on Oct 11 before a New York business group in which he said the U.S. needs to be on guard against a "cyber Pearl Harbor."
American officials said earlier this week that attacks on U.S banks and oil companies in Saudi Arabia and Qatar over the past several months were believed to be carried out by surrogates supported by the Iranian government.
"There is a continuing stream of Iranian behavior ... these (attacks) have the hallmarks of Iranian cyber misbehavior," one U.S. official told Security Clearance.
Another official said the number of incidents targeting the banking industry have picked up in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, reports indicate U.S. national security officials place blame for the September attacks on U.S. banks on Iran, which remains mired in a proxy war with the West over its nuclear program.
“I don’t believe these were just hackers,” U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman told C-SPAN last month. “I believe this was done by Iran and the Qods force, which has its own developing cyber attack capacity. And I believe it was in response to the increasingly strong economic sanctions that the United States and our European allies have put on Iranian financial institutions.”