Denial of service (DoS) attacks are used by hackers to generate massive volumes of traffic directed at a particular site. Increased Web traffic normally sounds great, right? Well, in these instances, it is anything but. The sites simply aren't ready for the sudden surge and are subsequently brought to their knees – either by slowing to glacial speeds or crashing altogether.
According to a recent ZDNet article, the websites of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and PNC Bank have all been targeted by DoS attacks since September 19.
As the report points out, no sensitive customer information or money is stolen during these attacks. These are simple attacks to disrupt websites and annoy both the financial institutions and their customers. But, whether it is a local or national bank, a financial planner or a trading company's website that is hacked, client data does not have to be compromised for the company do receive a black eye.
Perception is reality to many people. If a customer sees that an organization's site has been infiltrated and crippled, they will naturally begin to wonder how secure the rest of its IT systems are.
DoS attacks are typically considered to be simple, unsophisticated methods of hacking. However, they can be extremely annoying and inspire uncertainty among current and prospective clients.
"It is the time that unskilled, large groups of attackers … gain powerful, simple-to-use tools which should be on the minds of those in the financial industry," writes Charlie Osborne, the author of the article. "For now, your bank accounts are safe enough. However, if major institutions cannot block what is little more than the prank pizza delivery of the hacking world, it leaves space enough to wonder what part new, powerful and easily accessible infiltration tools will play in the future of cyber security."
The best IT support firms in the country understand that cyber warfare affects not only critical data, but also the public image of a company. One means nothing without the other.