Scam of the day – May 1, 2013 – Denial of Service attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) is the name for a tactic that has increasingly been used by hackers against major financial institutions.  Most recently, online broker Charles Schwab & Co. was disabled and inaccessible by its customers for more than an hour because of such an attack.  Earlier in April, American Express and Wells Fargo were victims of such an attack and, in a major attack a few months ago, the websites of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank and Sun Trust all were temporarily shut down due to a DDoS attack.  A DDos attack is accomplished when a website is flooded with nuisance requests from tens of thousands of computers all being controlled by a single controlling computer.  This network of computer is called a BotNet.  Regular readers of Scamicide are familiar with the term BotNet which has also been called Zombie computers and refers to a network of infected computers that are infected by hackers and then controlled by the hackers to send out their viruses and other malware.  The attacked websites are not able to handle the huge volume of computer hits, which results in the affected website being closed down.  It is thought that many, if not all of these recent DDoS attacks have originated from the same hackers in Eastern Europe and there is concern that this is just the beginning of major computer attacks against American financial institutions.

TIPS

So what does this mean to you?  Although both the government and the private sector are working hard to defend DDoS attacks and, in fact, are making progress in doing so,it can be expected that these and even more sophisticated attacks will be coming against our financial institutions including banks and brokerage houses in which you have money and investments.  You can’t just put your head in the sand, but you can prepare yourself for such attacks.  Make sure that you have backup records of your financial accounts on computer discs rather than just on your hard drive which can be accessed or even destroyed by hackers.  You also can use USB  flash drives and external hard drives.  You can also store information in the cloud, but that brings a range of different security issues.  You also may wish to keep readily accessible paper records of your accounts, but make sure that you keep them secure in your home.  Even friends and family members have been known to steal such documents for identity theft purposes.  Finally, you may wish to inquire of all companies with which you do business as to how they maintain both the security of their records from attack and their online presence.