A shadowy but well-organized hacker group in the Middle East has disrupted the electronic banking operations of Americas largest financial institutions in recent days, underscoring U.S. vulnerability to online terrorism.
A group identifying itself as Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters attacked the websites of Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp and Bank of America, the Los Angeles Times reported. The strikes left customers temporarily unable to access their checking accounts, mortgages and other services.
Wells Fargo customers in Idaho were not affected, a spokeswoman told the Idaho Statesman on Thursday.
U.S. Bank told the Statesman that some customers experienced delays Wednesday accessing their accounts online and from mobile devices across its 25-state service area, including Idaho. The bank had no specific information about Idaho. U.S. Bank said its system appeared to be working well on Thursday.
Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank are the two largest banks in the Treasure Valley measured by deposits, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Co.
The banks said account and personal information for their tens of millions of online and mobile customers were not compromised. Still, experts said the size and ferociousness of the attacks highlight the broader threat posed by electronic crime and the susceptibility of financial targets.
Of particular concern, experts said, is that the attackers used the Internet to warn the institutions ahead of time but the banks still couldnt repel the assaults.
"The banks put a lot of effort into cyber security. But theyre so desirable as a target, even with all that effort they still have problems," said James Lewis, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "If you can pull together enough resources, you can overwhelm any defense temporarily."
The attacks on banks began last week on the largest institutions in the country: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. They spread to Wells Fargo on Tuesday and U.S. Bank on Wednesday. Another attack has been threatened against PNC Financial Services on Thursday.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408