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Wells Fargo online services down for several days due to possible cyber attacks

The website of the number 4 biggest bank in the US, Wells Fargo & Co was still down last Friday for the fourth consecutive day as an official from the federal government underscored the need for a more robust system against hacking attacks.

A Wells Fargo representative said that some customers may experience on and off online banking services despite the decreasing number of traffic accessing the site.

“Our technical teams have been working around the clock to ensure our Web site is accessible to our customers,” said Bridget Braxton, the bank spokeswoman. Wells Fargo has been using its Twitter account to post apologies for its intermittent services.

Several high profile banks had been targeted by cyber attacks since September. The group claiming to be behind the attacks is called the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters. The main type of attack is the so-called denial of service attack, a harmless but annoying type of attack that can cripple a website by flooding it with high volume requests.

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters warned on Tuesday that it would attack the “5 major US banks.” The group also posted a warning last week that it would hit other banks including the PNC Financial Services Group Inc and the US Bancorp. Both financial institutions reported some disruptions in their online services.

As of Friday, PNC announced that all its online services are up and running, and that other bank systems are working without any problems. Other banks like US Bancorp, JP Morgan Chase and Co, and Bank of America Corp did not provide any comment about the current situation.

The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the office responsible for regulating national banks and thrifts, announced on Friday that groups like the  Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters launching denial of service attacks have mixed motives. The Office of the Comptroller thinks that such groups may want to gain public attention, while at the same time doing so to divert attention of targeted banks while they launch other attacks to steal critical information or commit fraud.

“Banks need to have a heightened sense of awareness regarding these attacks and employ appropriate resources to identify and mitigate the associated risks,” the alert from  US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said.
The OCC added that banks should boost their staffing during attacks, share information with other banks, as well as work with third party security providers.

Of the top 5 banks in the US, Well Fargo has seen more than its share of attacks, according to a tracking website, a site that notes customer reports. said that there were 576 known “downtime reports” for Wells Fargo within 24 hours.

Wells Fargo boasts of about 21 million active online banking users.

source: reuters

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