During the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit this week, FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard McFeely said that the agency is pushing a broader effort to communicate more with victims of cybercrime.
During his presentation at the event, McFeely cited an example in April where security officers at some of the nation’s largest financial institutions were given expedited security clearances. The rushed access was granted so that the officers could attend a classified video briefing on Izz ad-Din al-Qassam and Operation Ababil.
Operation Ababil started late last year, and has caused massive disruptions to the financial firms. Initiated by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters, a hacktivist group that has been linked to Iran by U.S. Intelligence, claimed responsibility for scores of DDoS attacks against large financial institutions over the last two quarters.
The targets are rotated weekly, as the group has yet to halt operations for any steady period. They mostly take breaks to spread propaganda for a short time, before launching a new DDoS attack. In the past, they’ve hit American Express, Citizens Financial, Ameriprise Financial, KeyCorp, BB&T and Bank of America, Chase, PNC, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, HSBC, and more.
In a report, Reuters said that McFeely explained the agency’s change in approach was due to the fact that they were “terrible” about keeping targeted company’s in the loop when it came to an investigation’s progress.
“The FBI is working harder at securing international help in combating cybercrime and sabotage, but also needs dramatic gestures, such as espionage arrests of hackers from rival countries, to convince U.S. companies to be more open about their losses,” McFeely told Reuters.
Last week, Operation Ababil was placed on pause, according to a statement from Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, in order to allow supporters of Anonymous and other individuals to carry out OpUSA. Since the statement last Monday, there has been no evidence that the attacks have resumed, and there have been no additional statements from the group.
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