The cyberattackers claimed allegiance to a group calling itself Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters--a reference to a prominent Muslim cleric who fought against Jewish settlers in the Middle East before the formation of Israel in 1948. In a statement, the group said the attacks were in retaliation for the anti-Islam video that has sparked protests across the Middle East in recent weeks.
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Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and PNC all suffered denial of service (DNS) attacks which occur when intruders are able to break in and overwhelm a server with web traffic.
The attack was likely made possible when an employee with a corporate email address clicked on a misleading link that established a connection with the hacker's server, said Dr. Josh Pauli, director of the NSA-approved cybersecurity program at Dakota State University.
"It can be an advertisement or email for a new mountain bike or a trip to Vegas," Pauli said. "In the past DNS hackers would send 5 million spam emails in hopes of getting one to hit. Now it's no longer free Viagra, but a more research intensive, social engineering project where the hacker will link to a website that looks legitimate or an email address from what appears to be a corporate account."
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