September 21, 2012

The attacks this past week against U.S. financial institutions by groups who claim they were done in retaliation to an anti-Islam film reinforce the need for vigilance against cybercrime.

Many banks, especially the largest ones, face cyber threats to their infrastructure on a daily basis, but this latest episode proves that a storm of cyber strikes against financial institutions can be ignited at a moment's notice.

On Tuesday, Bank of America was allegedly the target of a cyber attack, with a group called "Cyber fighters of Izz ad-din Al qassam" -- a reference to the military wing of Hamas -- taking credit and blaming the United States and the "Zionist Regime" for the production of the film. The New York Stock Exchnage was also an alleged target.

The bank's website experienced periodic outages that day, with Reuters reporting that customers contacted in New York, Georgia, Ohio and Michigan saying they could not access the website. JPMorgan Chase also experienced reported outages that day as well. Bank of America reported on Wednesday that all such outages had been addressed.

But the attacks appeared to reach further than that. The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center later in the week raised the cyber threat level to "high" from "elevated" in an advisory to members, citing "recent credible intelligence regarding the potential" for cyber attacks as its reason for the move.

All of this is just another sign of the times, and stresses the importance of information sharing and heightened security measures among financial institutions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as ...