Iran Blamed for Attacks That Disrupted PNC and Other Major U.S. Banks

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WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told the Tribune-Review on Wednesday that he is 99.9 percent confident Iran initiated recent cyber attacks on PNC and other major banks and that it clearly has the capability and desire to trigger more destructive assaults.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said Iran likely attacked computers at American banks to look for weaknesses to exploit.

"They're eager and ready to ramp up their actions here in the United States," Rogers said. "Here's a country that's feeling isolated. Sanctions are hurting badly. ... This is not a country that's going to make a rational decision about attacks of this nature."

In "Cyber Rattling: The Next Threat," a series of stories on cyber security that began Sunday, experts told the Trib that the bank attacks are part of a global war over information that could quickly escalate with destructive, and perhaps even deadly, computer attacks. Adversaries who might want to cause damage quickly are gaining more sophisticated capabilities, experts warned.

Rogers talked with the Trib after speaking about computer security concerns to about 150 people at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, D-Md., the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, warned that attacks might try to wipe out bank accounts or shut down critical infrastructure, such as power grids.

Lawmakers from both parties reintroduced legislation on Wednesday that they said would help the government and the private sector work together to prevent computer attacks and better respond when they occur. The Intelligence Committee is holding a hearing Thursday on the proposed legislation. (See related story from hearing.)

A similar bill failed last year over business concerns about government overreach. That led President Obama to announce during his State of the Union address on Tuesday that he signed an executive order on cyber security that calls for a cooperative government-business effort to protect computer systems. …