Computer cyber-attacks by Middle Eastern groups frustrated customers at six US banks, causing blackouts and service delays last week.
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JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, US Bank, Bank of America, and PNC customers could not gain access to their accounts or pay bills online and were frustrated that the banks had not communicated what was going on.
The attacks overload systems to the point of shutting down sites. They do not threaten security but they do interrupt service and cause customer complaints.
The group called Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters took credit for the attacks in retaliation for the video poking fun of the Prophet Muhammad.
The group says it will continue attacking American credit and financial institutions on a daily basis and may begin attacks on financial institutions in other countries until the video is removed.
PNC officials said the volume of the attacks was unprecedented. The bank is still trying to restore its bill payment system.
The group sent solicitation messages to solicit help from volunteers but security officials say the attacks were not sophisticated enough to have taken so many banks offline. This means there must have been other sources involved
in the attacks.
Botnets or networks of infected computers usually assist in such attacks and can be rented through black market schemes.
Security experts say there is a strong activist movement underway and that the incident is only the beginning. The fact that major banks are affected and have no explanation for what is going on is a huge concern, both for individuals and businesses who need access to their funds for daily operations.