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Cyber Security threat level High for U.S. financial sector

Cyber attackers using Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

By: Mark Rockwell

Cyber securityThe cyber security threat level for banks and financial institutions remains high as organized denial of service attacks cripple U.S. banking Websites.

The Financial Services-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) elevated its cyber security threat level to high on Sept. 19 as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on a number of U.S. banks continued. The FS-ISAC said the threat level remained high on Sept. 27.

“Issues of concern include recent credible intelligence regarding the potential for DDoS and other cyber attacks against financial institutions,” the Center said. It advised its members to maintain a heightened level of awareness and apply all appropriate updates. In particular, it said updates for the Microsoft out-of-band bulletin for Internet Explorer and Cisco security advisory releases were important. It also advised updating AV and IDS/IPS signatures and to exercise constant diligence in monitoring and quick response to any malicious events.

U.S. intelligence officials have said the brute force attacks on the Web presences of banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co. and  Bank of America are among the worst envisioned because of their prolonged, targeted assaults. Although there haven’t been any reported losses of money, customers of the banks have been blocked from accessing their accounts for hours at a time.

Intelligence officials have said they are working to determine who is executing the sustained attacks that flood Web sites with traffic.

A group called Izz ad Din al Quassam Cyber Fighters claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement on the Web site pastebin.com. The group said it was acting in retaliation for the YouTube video critical of the Prophet Muhammad. The same video has been blamed for riots against western interests in Egypt and was initially said to be the cause of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that claimed the life of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. citizens there.

Some U.S. officials have attributed the attacks to Iran acting in retaliation for economic sanctions on that country. Iranian officials have denied the accusations in the Iran’s Fars news service.