Earlier this week the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters announced new distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks on U.S. banks, part of what they’ve referred to as Phase 2 of their “Operation Ababil.” It appears that they have been true to their word.
As of 1:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon, virtually all of the most recent site outage reports on SiteDown.co, one of the largest website outage notification services, were for either Wells Fargo or Bank of America. Comments from Wells Fargo customers ranged from the questioning–“What idiots do you hire to manage to your website?” to the timely: “Did the mayans shut down wells fargo as well no world no monies (sic).”
The al-Qassam Cyber Fighters have repeatedly denied they are working for Iran, even though many security experts say the size of their attacks indicates state sponsorship. In various posts, usually published on Pastebin, the cyber attackers insist their efforts against American banks continue because Google will not remove the anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims from the Internet in any country where they are not legally required to do so.
The actual impact on banks by the continued denial of service (four days of outages for Wells Fargo this week) is still unclear. A report by Bank Info Security about the first wave of attacks from the al-Qassam Cyber Fighters in October indicated that in addition to inconvenience and customer loss, there is a danger that DDoS outages could be distractions for real hack attacks, in which customer funds are covertly transferred away, possibly to support future cyber espionage.
Whatever is really going on with the Cyber Fighters, it is clear that some banks are still unprepared for their onslaught, and customers are angry. An anonymous user on SiteDown.com likely spoke for many, writing, “Unable to log on to Bill Pay; 4th day and counting; Wells: you need significant help here; do something quick!”