A rogue group of hackers are targeting the world’s major institutions in retribution for the infamous Prophet Mohammad satire. Are you prepared?
A financial services industry group has warned banks to be on heightened alert for cyber-attacks after two US banks experienced unexplained outages on their public websites.
Reuters reported that the warning comes from the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center citing "recent credible intelligence regarding the potential" for cyber-attacks as the reason for raising the threat level to "high" from "elevated."
Following threats that a group was planning to launch cyber-attacks, the Bank of America Corp website went down on Tuesday, with consumer banking website JPMorgan Chase & Co intermittently unavailable to some customers on Wednesday.
The threats emerged in the wake of a short film posted on the Internet which mocks the Prophet Mohammad, which was made using private funds.
According to Reuters, a person claiming to represent "cyber fighters of Izz ad-din Al qassam" announced an attack on the Bank of America and the New York Stock Exchange as a "first step" in its campaign.
“This attack will continue until the Erasing of that nasty movie. Beware this attack can vary in type," said the statement on internet bulletin board pastebin.com.
The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, owned by the two banks – as well as Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley – advised banks and other industry members to "ensure constant diligence in monitoring and quick response to any malicious events".
The advisory also cited a warning from Microsoft that hackers have attacked some of its customers through a security bug in its widely used Internet Explorer browser – a security flaw Microsoft was yet to fix at the time of writing.
The US Department of Homeland Security has advised users to follow steps recommended by Microsoft that may reduce – but are not guaranteed to eliminate – the risk of attacks.
Warnings are beginning to spread globally, with the German government urging the public to stop using Internet Explorer until a software update is released by Microsoft.