FBI Examining Whether Russia Is Tied to Cyber Attacks on U.S. Banks

The FBI is trying to figure out whether Russia is lonked to a recent series of cyber attacks on U.S. banks.

The American FBI is to determine whether that's Russia to blame of cyber attacks on U.S. banks. Photo: DragonFlyEye/Flickr

The American FBI is to determine whether that’s Russia to blame of cyber attacks on U.S. banks. Photo: DragonFlyEye/Flickr

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation announced earlier in the day that it is currently investigating media reports that several U.S. financial firms have fallen victims of recent cyber attacks.

“We are working with the United States Secret Service to determine the scope of recently reported cyber attacks against several American financial institutions,” FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell said in a statement late on Wednesday.

However, Campbell refused to provide any names of any firms or give further details. A Secret Service spokesman was unavailable for comments.

JPMorgan Chase & Co appeared to be the victim of a recent cyber attack, said two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly about the incident. They declined to elaborate on the severity of the incident, saying JPMorgan was still conducting an investigation to determine what happened.

JPMorgan spokesman Brian Marchiony declined comment when asked about the attack.

“Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyber attacks nearly every day. We have multiple, layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels,” he said in a statement.

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,” Bloomberg repots.

“The way the Russians do it, to the extent we can see into the process, is they encourage certain targets,” said James Lewis, director of the Strategic Technologies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The Russians typically keep open the options to do something more, and the question now is what would trigger that and what would our response be.”

Attacks on the American  financial sector from the side of Russia and Eastern Europe have multiplied over past months, several cyber security experts say. Companies and U.S. officials don’t exclude the possibility that the uptick can be linked to the conflict over Russia’s behavior in Ukraine.

“In at least one of the attacks, the hackers grabbed sensitive data from the files of bank employees, including executives, according to a fourth person briefed on the probe, who, like the other individuals with knowledge of the matter, declined to divulge the name of victims other than JPMorgan. Some data related to customers may also have been accessed,” Bloomberg says.

“Russia has a policy of reactionary attacks in relation to political contexts,” said John Hultquist, an iSight expert who would not confirm direct knowledge of the attack. “When it comes to countries outside their sphere of influence, those attacks would be more surreptitious.”

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