Cyber attack takes down PNC website for second day

Thursday, September 27, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Alex Nixon
Triblive.com
Thursday, September 27, 2012

A cyber attack that one expert called the biggest of its kind to hit the United States crippled PNC Financial Services Group’s website on Thursday.

For the second day in a row, the Pittsburgh-based bank’s website fell victim to a denial-of-service attack, in which a person or group directs a flood of traffic to a website, overwhelming the system and preventing customers from gaining access.

“The volumes have been unprecedented,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, a co-founder of Internet security firm CrowdStrike, based in Irvine, Calif.

In similar attacks on the websites of major U.S. banks starting last week, CrowdStrike tracked traffic volumes 10 to 20 times higher than in typical denial-of-service attacks, Alperovitch said.
Though the sophistication of the attacks is “not particularly high,” he said, “it takes tremendous resources to drive up that kind of traffic.”

Such an attack would not endanger the financial or personal data of bank customers, experts said.

PNC acknowledged the attacks on Twitter and asked for patience from customers.
“Work on PNC.com online/mobile access continues. Your information is secure and all other banking systems are working properly,” the company said.

PNC spokesman Fred Solomon said the bank “reports unusual activity to its regulators and law enforcement.”

The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on whether it was investigating. Justice Department and FBI officials could not be reached.

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