Who Is Hacking U.S. Banks? 8 FactsHackers have labeled the bank website disruptions as grassroots-level reprisal for an anti-Islamic film. But is the Iranian government really backing the attacks?
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From the first days of the online banking attacks, hacktivists claimed to be leading a grassroots protest against the Innocence of Muslims film. Notably, a Sept. 18 blog post titled, "Come and support Prophet Muhammed on the Internet," urged to people to download attack tools--with download links to file-sharing websites provided--and use them to attack the Bank of America and New York Stock Exchange websites, in support of the Cyber fighters of Izz ad-din Al qassam.
According to Atif Mushtaq, a security researcher at FireEye, the blog asks people to participate in what is clearly an Anonymous-style, distributed DDoS attack. "They are asking people to download a RAR file containing an HTML file, and run it from their desktop," said Mushtaq. It's not clear, however, if anyone has actually downloaded or run the proffered attack tools. Even if they had, furthermore, they likely would have been an insignificant addition to the attacks' success, given the use of high-bandwidth servers to overwhelm banks' existing defenses. That suggests that the attackers enjoy substantial backing, and are much more well-organized than the typical grassroots endeavor.
"A blend of attack scripts and different techniques used in each campaign is another pointer to the likelihood that multiple, well-organized groups or individuals were behind these attacks," according to Prolexic president Stuart Scholly. The company has also found evidence that at least some of the servers used by bank attackers were compromised in May 2012, suggesting that Operation Ababil may have begun long before the release of the anti-Muslim film.
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