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TMCNet:  PNC aware of some website problems after hacking group warns of new cyberattack

[December 11, 2012]

PNC aware of some website problems after hacking group warns of new cyberattack

Dec 11, 2012 (The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Some PNC Bank customers may experience difficulty logging onto the bank's website, following a warning from a computer hacking group that it planned cyberattacks on PNC and other large banks.

PNC spokeswoman Amy Vargo said on Tuesday that the Downtown-based bank was aware of some intermittent problems, but she encouraged customers to try logging again if they have trouble the first time.

A computer hacking group, which claimed responsibility for disruptive attacks on PNC Bank and a half-dozen other large U.S. banks in September, on Monday said U.S. banks would be hit again in coming days.

The al Qassam Cyber Fighters Group posted to an Internet message board that it would again target Downtown-based PNC, along with JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, U.S. Bank and SunTrust in a second phase of attacks that previously cut access to bank websites.

In the September cyberattacks on PNC, the bank's consumer website was crippled for two days in what is known as a denial of service attack. The attacks flood a website with traffic in coordinated fashion, essentially preventing legitimate customers from gaining access.

"PNC is aware of the potential denial of service attack," Vargo said. "We are working with appropriate authorities to take precautions." PNC also communicated with customers through its Facebook page on Monday, saying it was aware of the possible attack but that no problems had been reported.

"Please be assured that PNC's website is protected by sophisticated encryption strategies that shield customer information and accounts," the Facebook message said. "We have no information regarding timing, duration or intensity of this potential threat. Please continue to follow our page for additional updates." The bank has said previously that attacks did not compromise customers' personal or financial information.

Experts have said denial of service attacks are meant to disrupt commerce.

In a CNBC interview in October, PNC CEO James Rohr said the bank had been "pummeled" by the cyberattacks.

"We had 38 straight hours of attacks on our systems, and we had the longest attack of all the banks. They just pummeled us," Rohr said.

Many large U.S. banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co., U.S. Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Capital One and BB&T were hit with the same type of attacks in September and October.

The government has said it suspects Iran may be behind the attacks. But the Qassam group claims it is retaliating over an anti-Muslim video posted to YouTube that mocks the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

"The people, whoever it is, supposedly it's Iran, have said that they're going to just continue these attacks," Rohr said.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

___ (c)2012 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.) Visit The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.) at www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib Distributed by MCT Information Services

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