Cyber attackers who went after Chase and Bank of America with Directed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on the banks’ websites may have been working for Iran.
A report from the Washington Post cites several officials who have made this claim, including Senator Joseph Lieberman, the chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The Post reports that in an interview with C-SPAN, Sen. Lieberman disputed the idea the attackers were independent hacktivists outraged by a controversial anti-Muslim film:
“I don’t believe these were just hackers who were skilled enough to cause disruption of the Web sites,” said Lieberman in an interview taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “I think this was done by Iran and the Quds Force, which has its own developing cyberattack capability.” The Quds Force is a special unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the military.
Lieberman said he believed the efforts were in response to “the increasingly strong economic sanctions that the United States and our European allies have put on Iranian financial institutions.”
The Post also reported that there have been similar attacks against American telecoms such as AT&T and Level 3.
What wasn’t clear from Sen. Lieberman’s remarks or the Post‘s report was whether the “Cyber fighters of Izz ad-din Al qassam,” who claimed credit for the attacks and dubbed them “Operation Ababil” were opportunistic trolls or misdirection by Iranian cyber forces.
If officials and cyber-security experts quoted by the Post are correct, it is likely Iran intended the bank attacks as a response to U.S. actions such as the infiltration of the Stuxnet worm, which disrupted Iranian nuclear operations in 2010. Stuxnet targeted uranium enrichment centrifuges and caused them to spin wildly out of control.
The most recent Pastebin post from the Cyber fighters of Izz ad-din Al qassam claimed the attack on Chase’s web properties was step two. They seemed to imply there were several more steps to go.