Alert to Credit Unions: Be Vigilant Protecting Internet Systems

A cyber attack on the nation’s largest banks’ online systems has the financial services industry on high alert—and for good reason. During the attacks, the websites and online banking services for Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and PNC Bank crashed, and customers were unable to conduct online transactions.

No money or data was reported stolen in these attacks, however, which have been traced back to Sept. 19 and continued through yesterday. ATM services were also unaffected. The hackers posted online warnings naming the target banks in advance of the attacks, according to media, but the banks were unable to prevent the attacks.

So-called “denial of service” attacks are often monitored in the banking industry, but experts are indicating that the current round is unique, describing it as “highly organized” and “well-orchestrated.” CrowdStrike, a security firm monitoring the attacks, told CNN the volume of activity was “twice the previous record for a denial of service attack.”

Dick Clarke, an ABC News cyber consultant, fears the next wave of attacks could be much more devastating.

“If they get inside the banks,” Clarke said, “they can move money around and cause financial chaos.”

A Middle Eastern group called Izz ad-Din al-Qassam claimed responsibility for the attacks in retaliation for a controversial anti-Muslim film, but some experts question whether higher-level entities such as a government could have been involved.

“This is a good reminder for credit unions to check their internet security systems,” said David Curtis, director of compliance services for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). “Be vigilant. Quite often, hackers will test first to see how far they can go, so if you notice anything unusual, it would be a good idea to report it to the FBI and prepare your systems to block an attack.”

A government agent who spoke with the NWCUA on condition of anonymity also stressed that financial institutions should work together and alert one another if they notice unusual hacking incidents in their communities.


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