American officials may be blaming a series of recent bank denial of service attacks on Iran, The New York Times reports. For the past months, banks including PNC, Bank of America, and HSBC have suffered heavy distributed denial of service attacks, and a group called "Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters" has claimed credit. But according to James Lewis, a former member of the State and Commerce Departments currently working for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "there is no doubt within the US government that Iran is behind these attacks." According to the Times, the government believes the Cyber Fighters are a cover for the Iranian government, which may be attempting to retaliate for the likely US-funded Flame and Stuxnet viruses.
If Lewis is correct, we still don't know who exactly believes Iran is behind the DDoS, or what evidence they're basing it on. A researcher for network security company Radware has said that the "unprecedented" scale of the attacks and the difficulty of tracking them to a single source could indicate state backing — and customers from several banks, including some capable of sustaining huge amounts of traffic, have indeed seen problems accessing online services. The hackers have also shown a more sustained interest than most. At the same time, even heavy DDoS attacks aren't among the most sophisticated hacking attempts, and it's hard not to wonder if some hyperbole is at work. After all, it's a lot more glamorous to worry about state-sponsored Iranian cyberwarriors than an amorphous group of disaffected civilians.