Mr. Lieberman said he thought the efforts targeted banks because of U.S. financial sanctions against Iran. “It is if you will, a counterattack in response to our sanctions against Iranian financial institutions,” he said.
The Web attacks on U.S. banks come as the White House confirmed that it, too, had been the target of hackers recently.
This attack was launched via a targeted email sent to user of an unclassified network, a White House official told The Washington Times in a statement. “In this instance the attack was identified, the system was isolated, and there is no indication whatsoever” that any data had been stolen, the official said.
Mr. Raduege dismissed the attack as “one of the millions of low-level daily attacks against government agencies and private companies a part of the daily cyber cold war.”
He said that any cyberattack could be sorted into one of three categories: The lowest was what he called “tactical, a cold war … a small ‘W’ war” — the continuing daily assault by cyberspies, criminals and other malefactors against government and private sector systems.
The second was “operational” — serious attacks actually aimed at disrupting infratsructure such as the bank attacks. At this level, he said, “There is political confrontation … a lot of accusations flying back and forth [between countries] a lot of finger pointing.”
The third level was “strategic” — attacks designed to destroy infrastructure, kill citizens or cause financial devastation. At this level, said Mr. Raduege, there is “military confrontation … that’s the one we want to stay away from.”
Banks and other big commercial entities can easily buy services to mitigate these kinds of attacks, said Mr. Rice, who was previously head of security for the world’s largest Internet service wholesaler, Tata Communications.
Service providers “have enormous capacity, so they absorb the attack, clean it [of the fake traffic], and pass [the real visitor’s traffic] along [to the website] clean,” said Mr. Rice. But these DDoS mitigation services are very expensive.
“If a bank’s Web page is down for a few hours … then an apology is [usually] much cheaper than the service,” Mr. Rice said.
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Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
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