A group claiming to be allied with radical Muslims threatened Monday to attack the websites of three financial companies as part of an ongoing cyber “operation” that it said is retribution for an anti-Islam film trailer.
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The so-called “Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters” posted a specific timetable for its attack program on PasteBin.com, a website commonly used by hackers to brag about exploits. The posting said the website of Capital One Financial (NYSE:COF) would be hit on Tuesday, followed by SunTrust (NYSE:STI) on Wednesday and Regions Financial (NYSE:RF) on Thursday. It also hinted at more attacks next week.
None of the banks could be immediately reached for comment on the matter. In the past, such attacks have sometimes caused websites to slow to a crawl or become inaccessible for some users; however, the impact cannot be gauged in advance.
The same group has taken credit for attacks on Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and the NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX) in recent weeks.
While none of the financial firms commented specifically on the attacks, or confirmed that they were the subject of an attack, security experts reckon the sites were the subject of distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) efforts. Such exploits are fairly rudimentary in that they essentially flood web servers with requests, making it difficult or impossible for the sites to be accessed. Customer information is generally not at risk as a result of this method.
FlashPoint Partners, a security company that specializes in cyber attacks, said in a report Monday that this fresh round of attacks would “likely to be limited to large scale DDoS attacks.”
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam said in the posting that the attacks are reprisal for "an insulting film," a reference to the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ trailer that ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad. It threatened to continue attacking what it called “financial centers” until the trailer is removed from the Web.