TD Canada Trust’s online banking site and mobile banking service went off line for several hours today due to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack which is similar to the cyber attack suffered by media networks and financial firms in South Korea yesterday.
Barbara Timmins, a spokesperson for the bank, said personal information and accounts have not been compromised. She said the branch banking, telephone banking and automated teller machine banking have not been affected.
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“This is very similar to the DDoS attack experienced by banks in South Korea,” according to Claudiu Popa, corporate risk advisor and president of Toronto-based information security consulting firm Informatica Corp., who tweeted about the disruption he experienced first hand as he attempted to access his online account today.
He said, it appears that attackers had targeted TD’s backend servers but have left the bank’s client-facing web site untouched.
“If you want to cause massive disruption but not steal any data, this is a smart move,” he said. “The site is still up but no transactions can take place because no one is able to log in.”
On Wednesday , the computer networks of three media broadcast stations, an Internet Service Provider and two banks were incapacitated by a DDoS attack. Files and company data were not breached, but the networks of the target organizations were paralyzed.
DDoS attacks are used to target and compromise multiple computer system or networks and are commonly infected with a Trojan virus. This is different than a denial of service (DoS) attacks in the sense that these attacks are only targets at a single platform.
DDoS attacks have become popular in the hacker community ibecause of the amount of traffic they can generate through the use of multiple machines. It also makes it more difficult to identify, track and stop the source of the attack when many systems are in play.
Popa said that attack had some similarities with the one experienced by TD.
“These types of attacks are prevalent because many organizations regularly test their Web servers but often neglect their backend servers,” he said. “So while their Web site can sustain 1 million hits a second their backend servers crash with just 100,000 hits.”
The bot threat
Some of the most serious threats networks face today are "bots," remotely controlled robotic programs that strike in many different ways and deliver destructive payloads, self propagating to infect more and more systems and eventually forming a "botnet."