The financial and banking industries are on high alert tonight as a massive cyberattack continues, with potentially millions of customers of Bank of America, PNC and Wells Fargo finding themselves blocked from banking online.
“There is an elevated level of threat,” said Doug Johnson, a vice president and senior adviser of the American Bankers Association. “The threat level is now high.”
“This is twice as large as any flood we have ever seen,” said Dick Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former cybersecurity czar.
A group of purported hackers in the Middle East has claimed credit for problems at the websites of both banks, citing the online video mocking the founder of Islam. One security source called that statement “a cover” for the Iranian government’s operations.
The attack is described by one source, a former U.S. official familiar with the attacks, as being “significant and ongoing” and looking to cause “functional and significant damage.” Also, one source suggested the attacks were in response to U.S. sanctions on Iranian banks.
Senior U.S. officials acknowledge that Iranian attacks have been the subject of intense interest by U.S. intelligence for several weeks. Last week, the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Intelligence Directorate, known as J-2, confirmed continuing Iranian cyber attacks against U.S. financial institutions in a report described as “highly classified.”