Hacker group makes good on promise to attack major banks

PNC, Bank of America, and SunTrust suffered site slowdowns, outages after threats of DDoS attacks from Islamic hacker group

PNC, Bank of America, SunTrust, and other major financial institutions have experienced a wave of DDoS attacks and site outages over the past couple of days, and Islamic extremist hacker group Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters is claiming responsibility.

The group announced via Pastebin message on Monday that it would launch a series of attacks this week against a host of banks, including U.S. Bancorp, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, PNC Financial Services Group, and SunTrust. The Islamic extremist group launched attacks against these same companies last fall, purportedly in protest of a controversial YouTube video that mocked the prophet Mohammed.

Evidently, the group has made good on its latest threats, based on varying reports. PNC revealed on its Facebook page this afternoon that "some customers are experiencing slowness or difficulty accessing online and mobile banking."

Yesterday, users reported that Bank of America's site was experiencing intermittent accessibility issues. Fox Business said it was testing the bank site via multiple computer networks and found it was either slow to load to entirely inaccessible until around 4 p.m. Eastern time. SunTrust, too, has experienced intermittent outages, according to BankInfoSecurity.com.

"These hacktivists are showing no signs of backing down and -- by publicly declaring their targets -- are apparently becoming more emboldened. Couple this open display with the ever-evolving nature of this type of attack, from high-volume flood assaults to intricate application layer attacks, and these financial institutions must up their game," said Stephen Gates, technology evangelist for Corero Network Security.

That fact that banks have taken to social media to warn customers of potential attacks is, by Gates' estimation, "a sure sign that these hacktivists are beginning to hit a nerve."

This article, "Hacker group makes good on promise to attack major banks," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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