Cyber Attacks on Banks Expose U.S. Vulnerability

Banks whose networks have been targeted include JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.

Cyber attacks on the biggest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., have breached some of the nation’s most advanced computer defenses and exposed the vulnerability of its infrastructure, said cybersecurity specialists tracking the assaults.

The attack, which a U.S. official yesterday said was waged by a still-unidentified group outside the country, flooded bank websites with traffic, rendering them unavailable to consumers and disrupting transactions for hours at a time.

Bank Attacks

The group started almost two weeks ago with test attacks that triggered multiple alerts. The assault on financial firms began last week, starting with JPMorgan, Citigroup Inc. and Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp., moving successively this week to Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp and yesterday, PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

Premature Attribution

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said last week he thought Iran was behind the attacks.

Bad Timing

“If banking infrastructure was affected in this way for an extended period of time, the natural outcome of that is a loss of faith,” he said. “If you can’t get to your banking site for three or four hours on a day when you have to do things, you start thinking about what are my alternatives because this might happen again.”

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