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Iranian Hacktivist Group Suspends Bank DDoS Attacks

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Claims Victory After Anti-Islam Video is Pulled From YouTube

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters, an Iranian hacktivist group that has claimed responsibility for a wave of DDoS attacks against large financial institutions, has claimed victory in their cyber war after a video said to be insulting to Islam was taken offline, and as a result said it has suspended attacks against US banks.

While the video has been removed from YouTube, and the group celebrates, the halt in DDoS attacks might not last. In a statement, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam called a ceasefire, but warned that additional copies of the video needed to be taken down.

“This is a clear indication of progress and establishment of logic instead of obstinacy. This positive move is a humanitarian effort and in line with paying respect to divine religions which has made billions of people love them; and it's a becoming and proper action... The al-Qassam cyber fighters lauds this positive measure of YouTube and on this basis suspends his operation and plans to give a time to Google and U.S. government to remove the other copies of film as well,” the statement read in part.

Research into the group’s methods suggested that they were using hijacked datacenter accounts, and not large botnets, in order to pull off the massive DDoS campaign. The DDoS wave started towards the end of the summer last year, picking-up pace in October. None of the nation’s financial giants were exempt, as traffic flooded the websites maintained by Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, PNC, Capital One, and Fifth Third Bank.

Earlier this month, a report in the New York Times said that Iran was behind the attacks, a claim that Iran flatly denied. "The Islamic republic of Iran categorically denies any involvement in cyber attacks on American banks and denounces such methods which are a violation of the sovereignty of nations," a statement from the Nation’s UN mission said.

For now the DDoS attacks have stopped, but it’s unclear if al-Qassam will keep their word, or if others won’t conduct attacks on their own under the group’s name.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.