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Fear Factor High as Hackers Wage “Operation Ababil 2″ on US Banks


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These Financial IT Security links are part of a weekly series, Ethical Hacker Roundup, featuring recent information security and cyber security related articles that we’ve read over and thought worth sharing.

These articles were emailed to us, shared on Twitter @pivotpointsec and our Google+ page, and read in RSS subscriptions this week.

“Operation Ababil 2″ DDoS Attacks Continue

Week 4 of the “Operation Ababil 2″ Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against US banks began with a New Year’s Day message to US banks on Pastebin that ended with: “Rulers and officials of American banks must expect our massive attacks! From now on, none of the U.S. banks will be safe from our attacks.”

Among the sites recently hit this week (Week 5) were Wells Fargo, BB&T, HSBC, PNC and Fifth Third Bank. The attacks will take place “for 8 hours daily, starting at 2:30PM GMT, every day.” Notes on Pastebin consistently state that taking the movie Innocence of Muslims off of YouTube is the motivation for the attacks.

Massive Bank Hack Attack Linked to Iran

According to multiple sources, the recent tsunami of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on US banks were linked to Iran – presumably in retaliation for US-led cyber attacks, as well as economic sanctions.

According to security researchers, the attackers hijacked networks of computers in data centers (effectively creating their own “private cloud”), making this the largest DDoS attack in history – “multiple times” the amount of traffic that Russia barraged Estonia with back in 2009. Some of the targeted banks were hit with sustained surges of traffic as intense as 70 gigabits.

The sophistication required to mount a hack that massive has apparently convinced US government officials that a nation-state, rather than Muslim hacktivists acting on their own, is to blame. The DDoS traffic was spawned from public cloud and public web hosting data centers worldwide, which had been infected with a malware called Itsoknoproblembro that made it difficult to pinpoint the command/control center of the botnet.

Booz Allen Unveils “Top 10 Financial Services Cyber Risk Trends for 2013″

“When we think about the lethal daily threats to the globally integrated financial services industry from nation-states and individuals, it is imperative that CISOs begin looking around corners, talk with each other and better prioritize the real threats to their firms,” sums up Booz Allen vice chairman Mike McConnell.

Among the top trends reported:

  • Business must look beyond technology to boost risk protection through training people and fine-tuning processes. No matter how good technology is, it needs to be wielded by skilled staff following well-considered processes.
  • Cyberthugs will shift (at some point; if not now, soon) from “data disruption” to “data destruction.”
  • Vendor risk management is an increasingly important concern (as Pivot Point Security has been saying all along).

Other Financial Services Cybersecurity Notes for This Week

  • The influential Business Roundtable association of CEOs just released a cybersecurity proposal that supports many of the guidelines found in the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) legislation that the US House passed in 2012.
  • Global Payments, Inc. announced that the data breach it sustained in early 2012 cost it $93.9 million. Expenses related to fines, PCI compliance remediation work, and its internal investigation.
  • An alleged hacker who was “living large” at the top of the FBI’s most-wanted list for the theft of millions of dollars from US banks was arrested in Thailand following an FBI tip, and is being held for extradition to the US.
  • Evidence shows that Narilam financial malware is actively targeting financial applications from the vendor TarrahSystem used primarily in Iran, and has effectively corrupted multiple financial databases there.

Financial IT Security

Arguably, beyond the government itself, no industry has a greater impact on the health of our economy than financial services. And nothing has a greater impact on a financial entity than to lose the confidence and trust of its customers. Your Financial IT Security concerns can and should be addressed by an independent and objective Information Assurance firm. Pivot Point Security can help your Financial Organization to know you’re secure and prove you’re compliant. See how we can help.

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