Three of Philly Regions’ Banks Target of Iranian Cyber Attack

Seven banks in total, three in the Philadelphia region – PNC Bank, Bank of America, and BB&T Corp. – were targeted by a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks linked to the Iranian government. The U.S. Department of Justice in Manhattan issued an indictment unsealed on March 24, 2016.i

DDoS attacks are used by hackers in various ways, including hacking into a targeted device, and using the attacks as a smoke screen. In the first example, the attacks are intent on crippling a customer’s critical servers (in this case the bank’s servers) so that users cannot perform their everyday functions with their banks. In the second example, DDoS attacks are used as a diversion tool, where the DDoS attacks flood the network, and security personnel focus on managing these attacks; meanwhile the attacker sneaks into the network undetected to get control of an internal machine or gain access to the network.

The indictment charged seven Iranians in an extensive campaign of over 176 days of DDoS attacks. Ahmad Fathi, 37; Hamid Firoozi, 34; Amin Shokohi, 25; 23-year-old Sadegh Ahmadzadegan, aka Nitr0jen26; Omid Ghaffarinia, aka PLuS, 25; Sina Keissar, 25; and Nader Saedi, aka Turk Server, 26, launched DDoS attacks between 2011 and mid-2013 against 46 victims, primarily U.S financial services companies.

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