September 22, 2012 - 07:54 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Iranian hackers have repeatedly attacked Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc over the past year, as part of a broad cyber campaign targeting the United States, according to people familiar with the situation, Reuters reported.
The attacks, which began in late 2011 and escalated this year, have primarily been "denial of service" campaigns that disrupted the banks' websites and corporate networks by overwhelming them with incoming web traffic, said the sources.
Whether the hackers have been able to inflict more serious damage on computer networks or steal critical data is not yet known. The sources said there was evidence suggesting the hackers targeted the banks in retaliation for their enforcement of Western economic sanctions against Iran.
The attacks on the three largest U.S. banks originated in Iran, but it is not clear if they were launched by the state, groups working on behalf of the government, or "patriotic" citizens, according to the sources, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
They said the attacks shed new light on the potential for Iran to lash out at Western nations' information networks.
"Most people didn't take Iran seriously. Now most people are taking them very seriously," said one of the sources, referring to Iran's cyber capabilities.
Iranian officials were not available for comment. Bank of America, JPMorgan and Citigroup declined to comment, as did officials with the Pentagon, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency and Secret Service, according to Reuters.
A U.S. financial services industry group this week warned banks, brokerages and insurers to be on heightened alert for cyber attacks after the websites of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase's experienced unexplained service disruptions.