Izz ad-Din al-Qassam group hacks six banks
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
PNC and five other banks were warned ahead of time that a hacker group would target them on Sept. 27, shutting down online service for more than a day, according to a PNC spokesman.
Fred Solomon of PNC said the group, called Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, had posted a message on the Internet announcing which banks would be attacked and the order in which they would be struck. The group’s name is a reference to a Muslim preacher who fought against Western countries in the 1920s and 1930s, and a terrorist group that has a base in Palestine, according to FoxBusiness.com.
The reports said this group took credit for the attack which affected PNC, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. Customers who went on those websites were unable to access their accounts due to server overloads.
Solomon said PNC’s website experienced an “extreme flood of traffic” that was intended to prevent customers from accessing their accounts. He said the attack lasted approximately 31 hours straight, and as a result of the denial of service attack, some customers are still unable to access their accounts online.
“A denial of service attack doesn’t attempt to gain access to customers’ accounts,” Solomon said. “It simply floods a system with traffic.”
Computer and information science professor Chien-Chung Shen said a denial of service attack is when hackers use a large number of computers simultaneously sending requests to a server so that it becomes too busy to access requests.
According to Shen, attacks like this happen all the time, but the amount of attention they receive depends on the scale. He said the scope of denial of service attacks can range from a few hours to a few days.
Shen said he thinks the reason the hackers overload banks’ servers, as opposed to stealing information, is to get attention and because it is less difficult. He also said the attack still received media coverage, which is what the group would have wanted.
“If they stole customers’ passwords and logged into their accounts, they wouldn’t be able to transfer money because it’s being monitored,” Shen said. “I think denial of service attacks are to make a point.”
He said the attacks cannot be large scale every time because the hacker needs to coordinate the requests. Shen said experts have been trying to defend against denial of service attacks, but hackers have many different ways to send the requests.
Senior Meredith Bilodeau said she thinks shutting down all banking as opposed to stealing individuals’ account information is a “bigger thing to do” because it affects more than just a few people.
Bilodeau said she does her banking online because it is easy and she can access her information right away. However, she said she does feel as though she has exchanged security for convenience by using online banking.
“It’s so easy to hack into computers,” Bilodeau said. “All of your information is on your computer.”
Sophomore Bishoy Girgis said he tried to access his PNC bank account online on Sept. 27 but was denied. He said despite the cyber attack, he would not consider another way of banking.