Hacktivists Announce New Wave of DDoS Attacks on Banks

Anthony Freed
By | December 11, 2012

Posted in: Network Security Trends

Ugh, they're back... After more than a month long reprieve, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters - the Islamic extremist group who had claimed responsibility for the series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks this fall that resulted in intermittent website downtime for ten of the biggest financial institutions - has announced they will again commence with operations targeting American banks.

The group stated in a Pastebin message that the attacks set to begin this week will focus on U.S. Bancorp, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, PNC Financial Services Group and SunTrust - all of whom were previously targeted in the first round of the group's bazaar protest of a controversial YouTube video which mocked the prophet Mohammed - and they assert that this series of attacks could dwarf the first round that occurred in October and November.

"In [the] new phase, the wideness and the number of attacks will increase explicitly; and offenders and subsequently their governmental supporters will not be able to imagine and forecast the widespread and greatness of these attacks," the group stated in a Pastebin message.

HSBC, Ally, BB&T, Wells Fargo and Capital One were also hit in the initial attacks, though the success of the operation can be argued as most of the targets were able to restore their websites after only a brief interruption in services. The group has apparently chosen to target banks because they believe they are most representative of Western society's capitalist values.

"We have selected the banks because we should have done something proportional to what has happened against us. In the system where the religion and sacred things are not honorable, and only material, money and finance have value, this seems a suitable and effective way of act and can influence governors and decision makers," the group states.

The initial attacks were fodder for rampant speculation, with some accusing the Iranian government of being behind the campaign, while the more conspiracy-minded asserted that the attacks were part of a false flag operation orchestrated by the U.S. and Israel to enlist international support for military action against Iran.

Others believed the attacks were merely a diversionary tactic being used by Russian crime syndicates who are attempting to conceal a “mega-heist” employing malware disseminated through an email-based spear-phishing operation. Even the rogue movement Anonymous made a play for headlines with claims that its minions were behind the DDoS attack against HSBC.

Regardless, defending against DDoS attacks can be difficult because they are relatively low-tech and simple to carry out. As a defense measure against DDoS attacks and other malicious forms of web traffic, organizations can deploy a first line of defense appliance behind the router and in front of the firewall to filter unwanted traffic before it ever reaches the network, in turn eliminating the need for multiple load balancers and servers and reducing the overall volume of data logged by monitoring systems.

Those concerned about their own organization’s potential for exposure to DDoS attacks are encouraged to take a free DDoS preparedness assessment test which provides a customized evaluation, and can be conducted in a matter of minutes by following the instructions here:  DDoS Preparedness Test.

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