The number of cyber attacks on U.S. banks is rising. This week, attacks struck the websites of BB&T, HSBC, Ally Financial and Capital One Financial. It was the second hit for Capital One within the past 30 days and follows attacks on Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase PNC Financial Services, SunTrust Banks and Regions Financial.
Customers trying to use those websites after an attack were denied access or faced long delays.
Larry Castro, a managing director of The Chertoff Group, tells The Daily Ticker, that there's been no breach of customer personal data or financial information as a result of these attacks, according to bank reports. Castro, who spent 44 years at the National Security Agency, says these "denial of service" attacks are "a significant nuisance" but not as serious as a loss of actual personal data.
The group Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters has taken responsibility for the attacks and said they will continue them until the trailer for the anti-Islamic film 'Innocence of Muslims' is removed from the Internet. Unnamed U.S. officials have said Iran backs the group but no other details have been disclosed.
Earlier this month Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned about a possible "cyber-Pearl Harbor," saying it could potentially wreak havoc on the nation's financial system, power grid, transportation system and government.
What can and should the government do to prevent more attacks?
Castro tells The Daily Ticker that information sharing is key. "As Secretary Panetta said, we need to do more to provide the proper authorities to the Department of Defense, the intelligence community and the National Security Agency to allow them to share the information they have…. without caveat to individuals in the private sector that would benefit from it."
The White House has introduced a cybersecurity bill that includes its national security priorities but it's been blocked by a group of Republicans, including Senator John McCain of Arizona.
In the meantime, Castro says the banks themselves are sharing information and possible defensive tactics through a their own security trade group called Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center.