TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Financial Firms Cyber Attack to Start Today

Financial Firms Cyber Attack to Start Today

Kristin Roberts (
Fri, 01 Dec 2006 09:13:03 -0600

Financial firms warned of Qaeda cyber attack
By Kristin Roberts

The U.S. government warned American private financial services on
Thursday of an al Qaeda call for a cyber attack against online stock
trading and banking Web sites beginning on Friday, a source said.

The source, a person familiar with the warning, said the Islamic
militant group aimed to penetrate and destroy the databases of the
U.S. financial sites.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed an alert had been
distributed but said there was no reason to believe the threat was

The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team issued a "situational
awareness report to industry stakeholders," said Homeland Security
spokesman Russ Knocke.

The warning said the threat called for attacks to begin Friday and run
through the month of December in retaliation for the United States
keeping terrorism suspects at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

"Denial of service is what it called for," said a Homeland Security
official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A person familiar with the warning said the threat came from a group
calling itself "ANHIAR al-Dollar." The effort was related to al Qaeda
and intended to avenge "Muslim brothers in the crusaders' Guantanamo
prison camp," the source said.

Reaction in the financial community was muted, with markets showing
little or no reaction.

New York Republican Rep. Peter King (news, bio, voting record),
chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland
Security, said the report was "nothing to panic over, but it will be
looked at very carefully."

Robert Albertson, chief investment strategist at Sandler O'Neill &
Partners in New York, said it was unlikely al Qaeda members could do
serious harm to financial Web sites.

"I'm not saying there aren't precautions to be taken, but I just can't
fathom how there would be serious havoc," he added.

Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert with the RAND Corp., said that such
threats were not unusual.

"There is a regular stream of Jihadist exhortations to attack various
targets," he said. "Financial organizations stay at a fairly high
level of readiness anyway because of regular assaults."

A government source said regulators were being briefed on the warning.

(Additional reporting by David Morgan, Paul Eckert and Jim Christie in
San Francisco)

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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