An Islamist militant group that launched multiple waves of attacks against US banks last year vowed to continue its attacks. The group's message, given high credibility by cyber security specialists, is a reminder that the cyber spillover of Middle East conflicts remains a global security concern. The Web has no borders, and anyone can be targeted anywhere.
Among the banks targeted were Bank of America, PNC Financial, Capital One Financial, Union Bank, and University Federal Credit Union. Outages at the targeted banks lasted from a few minutes to several hours.
The group's warnings of upcoming attacks were given high credibility by the security community, since it has a history of following up on its threats. The method of attacks used has also shown a consistent pattern, suggesting that the attacks were in fact launched by a single team of hackers.
Security experts also noted that the success of the group's DDoS attacks was due in large measure to a failure of coordination among the victims. According to one security consultant, Ronen Kenig, "the entire security ecosystem still does not deal with these attacks as it should." Banks and security vendors are not sharing their data, making it more difficult for other potential targets, and the security community, to craft defenses.
The attacks by the Cyber Fighters group is a reminder that the ongoing cyberwar across the Middle East is not going away. So far in 2013 it has attracted less attention than it did in 2012, when reports of cyberweapons such as Flame, and revelations of the damage done to Iran's nuclear program by the Stuxnet worm, generated widespread news coverage.
As of late May the threatened new wave of bank attacks has not yet materialized, but the Cyber Fighters group may simply be biding its time.
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