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Russian Hack Attack on Banks: Is This the Big One?

JPMorgan Chase and at least four other US banks have been hit by a series of coordinated attacks on account information. Was it inevitable?

It's likely that the mainstream news media talking heads were the only people who were shocked by the news that at least five US banks -- including JPMorgan Chase, the only institution identified so far -- have been cyberattacked in the past month, apparently by Russian hackers. Financial services industry professionals and industry observers are well aware that banks are ongoing targets for fraud and cybercrime. As JPMorgan Chase spokesperson Patricia Wexler told The New York Times: "Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyberattacks nearly every day. We have multiple layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels."

Right now, it's not clear (well, at least the public statements say it's not clear) whether the motive behind the attacks is theft, disruption, or both, and the FBI reportedly is investigating these options. There's speculation that the Russian government could be sponsoring the attacks in retaliation for US sanctions imposed in response to the crisis in the Ukraine. According to a report from Bloomberg, which broke the news of the attacks:

The sophistication of the attack and technical indicators extracted from the banks' computers provide some evidence of a government link. Still, the trail is muddy enough that investigators are considering the possibility that it's cyber criminals from Russia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Other federal agencies, including the National Security Agency, are now aiding the investigation, a third person familiar with the probe said.

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Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio

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