A group of "hacktivists" known as Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters on Tuesday announced a second wave of Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks on five U.S. banks. SunTrust, Bank of America and PNC were among the listed targets -- and all three banks are receiving calls from clients reporting trouble accessing the customer-facing sites, according to a report in Bank Info Security.
Although it's not clear if the source of the problem is related to hacktivist attacks, banks are on high alert. U.S. Bancorp and JPMorgan Chase were also named in Izz ad-Din al-Qassam's latest threat letter.
"In new phase [of attacks], the wideness and the number of attacks will increase explicitly; and offenders and subsequently their governmental supporters will not be able to imagine and forecast the widespread and greatness of these attacks," the group wrote in a Pastebin post.
Anti-Islam Film Spurs Attacks
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam's self-stated motive for the attacks: "widespread and organized offends to Islamic spirituals and holy issues, especially the great prophet Mohammad . . . and if this offended film is going to be eliminated from the Internet, the belonging attacks, also will be stopped."
The group said people did not pay any attention to Muslim complaints against the film, Innocence of the Muslims, and did not take into account damaged feelings it caused. The group then posted a supposed interview with an "undisclosed reporter" from American Banker. One of the questions was: "Why are you targeting banks, which in America have no ability to make YouTube remove the insulting video from the Internet?"
"This is a protest. We should have done something proportional to what has happened against us. In the system where the religion and sacred things are not honorable, and only material, money and finance have value, this seems a suitable and effective way of act and can influence governors and decision makers," the group responded. "If you have a more suitable suggestion for removing the film please tell us to know."
The group claims it has no government or organizational sponsor and said it would stop the attacks if the movie was removed. The hacktivists would not offer any insight into the types of malware it is using.
No Sign of Backing Down
Stephen Gates, technology evangelist at Corero Network Security, said the new wave of attacks just picks up right where other attacks left off.
"These hacktivists are showing no signs of backing down and -- by publicly declaring their targets -- are apparently becoming more emboldened. Couple this open display with the ever-evolving nature of this type of attack, from high volume flood assaults to intricate application layer attacks, and these financial institutions must up their game," Gates told us.
"In the wake of this declaration, many of the banks named by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters took to social media to warn their customers about these potential attacks; a sure sign that these hacktivists are beginning to hit a nerve."