Iranian cyber attack targets U.S. banks, again

cyber attackRepublican presidential candidate Mitt Romney believed Iran was the biggest national security threat facing America. Now, a second round of suspected Iranian cyber attacks against U.S. banks is under way, and the Obama administration is seemingly doing nothing about it.

The New York Times’ Bits Blog reported that the first wave of “denial of service” attacks in September was organized by an Iranian group of hackers who call themselves Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters. The hackers have claimed responsibility for this second wave of attacks in an online post the first week of January, saying it had “resumed Operation Ababil and that, over the last several weeks, it had focused on nine banks: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, PNC, BB&T, Suntrust and Regions Financial,” according to the Bits post.

“In a denial of service attack, hackers bombard a site with traffic until it collapses under the load,” The Times blogger explained.

Three of the targeted banks have experienced unusually high traffic on their websites, and PNC even warned customers about the delays, then issued a statement saying no customer data or information had been compromised.

The group claims the attacks are in retaliation for an online video mocking the prophet Muhammad, demanding the video be removed from the Internet. However, the Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz quoted a forensic cyber specialist as saying the attacks seemed more like “‘state-sponsored action,’ meaning backed by the Tehran regime. … Iranian officials have been quoted in state-run press accounts as promising to conduct cyber attacks against the United States and other western states in retaliation for cyber attacks against Iran’s nuclear program.”

Many U.S. government and intelligence agencies oversee cyber attacks on the country. But Gertz questioned whether the Obama administration is doing enough to address the Iranian attack.

The White House is in charge of directing any counterattacks on nation-states and so far has refused to authorize aggressive action, such as retaliatory counter cyber attacks. The administration appears to be treating the Iranian cyber attacks as a law enforcement matter rather than covert warfare.

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About Janeen Capizola

"And though she be but little, she is fierce." And fun! This conservative-minded political junkie, mom of three, dancer and one-time NFL cheerleader holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science. Janeen@BizPacReview.com. Twitter: @JaneenBPR

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  • Nevin

    Time to implement what should have been an appropriate response for US policy as far back as 1979: sever and expel all diplomatic missions of Iran and its fronts in the United States. They would include: closing down of the Iranian Interests Section in Washington DC; Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, and front groups and organizations such as the Alavi Foundation based in NYC. All are involved in Iran's subversive apparatus in the US. Stand by Israel and immediately cease pushing Israel to all surrender of liberated lands…so as not to continue in projecting the image that Israel is a weak client state of Israel acting like a welfare recipient that is perpetually dependent on US aid and guarantees…restore Israel's sovereignty now!

    Lastly restore the American School of Economics by reducing with an eye to eliminating all trade with China and Russia and becoming self sufficient in all consumer and capital goods once again. When we are less dependent on China and Russia (Iran's historic and current allies), that gives the US more leverage to exert its power over aggressive totalitarian nations like Iran who seek to Islamize the entire Middle East with its revolution and then the Western World.

    • Janeen

      Amen Nevin…well said.

    • Sherry

      VERY well said! Now let's send your reply to our congressmen!!!

  • http://Bizpac Ted

    Sounds like this speaks more from the gut than from the mind. Cyber attacks happen every day. Everyone is doing it, including the USA. It is an invisible frontier that goes on and on 24/7. It also happens over the internet, which is international. You can close down every Iran centered activity in the US and allied countries and hacking would still happen. Witness the hacking of the Iranian centrafuges that were made to spin so fast they destroyed themselves. Shutting down these offices and locations would only give us a boost psychologically. Cyber attacks would go on. The Cyber battle has little to do with whether we support Israel unconditionally or insist on terms for our help with their problems. Again, nothing to do with weather Israel has to eventually give up the lands it's opening to settlements. As well as eliminating trade with China and Russia. We are already as deeply into their economies, maybe more, than they are into ours. Our standard of living depends on cheap Chinese labor. Our economies are intertwined. As a matter of point, I think it is better to engage other national economies because we get our brands into their societies. McDonalds, KFC, GM, Apple, IBM. Oh, yeah. We are there. Our companies entering their nations is better than any military invasion. Back to the Cyber question: The only way to defeat anyone who is attacking you through the internet cyberally, is to be better at it than they are. We are. We have whole parts of industry and governmment dedicated to the cyber battle. We not only have to be good at this, we have to be the best. I believe we are.

    • http://facebook Jen

      Something needs to be done. If our President could make an actual threat against his Moslem brothers it might help. I have been fighting these attacks on my checking account now since Dec. 28th. Constant denial of access to my account. PNC actually called me last night asking me if I had made certain transactions. I told them if I could get into my account I would let them know. Still not able this morning to access it. You apparently aren't one of the people being hit by these attacks or you would not be so tolerant of the situation. Our village idiot needs to man up and grow a set. Sorry for the rant, but I hate when someone messes with my money when I can't. And if we are so good at the cyber attacks, why are we not blocking them. I would say, they are one upping us on this playing field, or our chief does not care enough about his people to retaliate.

    • Nevin

      "Sounds like this speaks more from the gut than from the mind."

      Thanks Ted for the detailed response. However, I strongly take issue with the tenor of your comments that appears to minimize the magnitude of the threats facing the US and in underestimating our enemies. By saying "Everyone does it including the USA" implies a moral equivalence between the US and its enemies. That's what the domestic far left and its sympathizers did during the "Cold War" vis a vis in lobbying for the communists states and the diplomats of fascistic states such as South Africa did under Nationalist Party rule when encountering criticism for apartheid in the international arena…don't criticize or confront…because you see…you engage in the same behavior. It's the old tactic of neutralizing your opposition.

      "Shutting down these offices and locations would only give us a boost psychologically."

      Actually shutting down these offices would close down an effective lobbying, espionage, and sabotage apparatus that Iran has in the United States. The Interests Section and the UN Mission of Iran were exposed in the 1980 New York Times for funneling money to Islamic elements as far back as 1980, was responsible for assassinations of people such as the former Shah's diplomat Tabatabai who was killed in either 1979 or 1980, channeling technology from the US to Iran, and lobbying domestic Leftists, academics, and multinational corporations and their lobbies (USA Engage, Conoco Phillips, National Foreign Trade Council, etc.). Some good sources for information on the above would be Kenneth Timmermann's article in the American Spectator (1996) on the Alavi Foundation and his publication called Iran Brief.

      "The Cyber battle has little to do with whether we support Israel unconditionally or insist on terms for our help with their problems. Again, nothing to do with weather Israel has to eventually give up the lands it’s opening to settlements."

      I disagree, because a strong and sovereign Israel is the only regional power with the capability and willingness to confront Iran's weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore these weapons are directed towards at least intimidating Israel and the US needs to unequivically support Israel even if it comes to a surgical strike on Iranian military bases and WMD facilities. Remember Israel undertook such a mission against Saddam's French built Tammuz reactor in Osirak in 1981 and it crippled Saddam's nuclear program for quite some time. It also reinforces an image that Israel is/was a power that cannot be easily "walked on" by its Arab enemies. Sadly many of the more aggressive Arab and Islamic states respect only force and power and combine that with a skillful use of deception. An example of this was the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, which is where the concept of the strategic truce or hudna came from.

      "As well as eliminating trade with China and Russia. We are already as deeply into their economies, maybe more, than they are into ours. Our standard of living depends on cheap Chinese labor. Our economies are intertwined. As a matter of point, I think it is better to engage other national economies because we get our brands into their societies. McDonalds, KFC, GM, Apple, IBM. Oh, yeah. We are there. Our companies entering their nations is better than any military invasion." Our trade with Russia and China provides with the technology and political legitimacy for countries that mean our country ill. If you doubt me on this, just check out the secret speech of PLA General Chi Haotian from 2005 that can be found under the terms "War Is Not Far From Us; War Is the Midwife of the Chinese Century" or the revalations of former GRU Colonel Stanislav Lunev to my friend Jeff Nyquist and in his book Through the Eyes of the enemy.

      "As a matter of point, I think it is better to engage other national economies because we get our brands into their societies."

      Then how do you explain the massive trade deficits between the US and China? And I can almost guarantee the same will occur between Russia and the US, now that the US Chamber of Commerce, Grover Norquist, the Obama Administration and many leftwing Democrats, and much of the GOP paved the way for PNTR for Russia. These trade agreements are mostly about subcontracting work to state owned or crony capitalist enterprises or having American productive capital offshoring to other countries, not about the much inflated promises and claims of increased exports. Lastly foreign economic dominance and trade can be/are a means for a hostile nation seeks to overpower, influence the decisionmaking, and even conquer another nation. For example, Hu Jintao stated in a secret speech in 2008 (recorded in Chinascope): "“We will use our open policy, seize the economic crisis in the West as a historical moment, and use effective measures to turn them into Socialist China’s economic and cultural colonies. … Our colonization of these countries is the historical process of communism’s triumph over rotten capitalism. We Chinese communists must shoulder the great historical mission, and use socialism to defeat capitalism, eventually liberating the entire humanity with Communism.” Britain attempted to dump massive amounts of exports into the US by making it an economic colony and last I checked economic colonies (or countries without an appreciable amount of economic power) can be bullied or manipulated by more hostile and more powerful nations who seek to export totalitarianism.

  • http://Bizpac Ted

    Sounds like your bank sucks. I use several. The bigger picture deals with defense, utilities infrastructure and financial access. You are looking at it from the personal level. Get mad at your bank. Credit unions are the best at customer service. Big banks, like BofA are the worst. The Cyber war would be there under any president. It has nothing to do with whether or nor the president has muslim brothers or not. Back to the bank questions. I check accounts almost every day. I am always looking from anything strange about my online accounts. A little healthy paranoia goes a long way. Good luck.

  • Nevin

    Dealing with enemies of the United States require a wholistic analysis of what needs to be done, not merely compartmentalizing it to merely cyberwarfare. Cyberwarfare is one of the many deadly tools an enemy like Iran utilizes to subvert the US and a general discussion of the aggressive activities of Iran and its allies, along with ways to contain such activities is more than appropriate to the discussion.

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