AUSTIN, Texas (1/28/13)--Hacktivists say the Izz ad-Din Al Qassam Group is behind a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that shut down the website and online banking access of Austin, Texas-based University FCU (UFCU) for nearly 2 1/2 hours Thursday.
The attack lasted from 11:40 a.m. to 2 p.m., said Sheila Wojcik, senior vice president of communications and corporate affairs at UFCU. "This was not a security event. Our members' data were not at risk at any time.
"Our system was not down or compromised in any way," Wojcik told News Now. "Our Internet Service Provider (ISP) noticed a high number of megahits to the site that created a bottleneck and disabled the connection" until the matter was fixed.
The credit union learned the site was down from members' chatter on Facebook and Twitter. Its social media manager noticed the chatter and let members know the site was unavailable and provided links to alternate access.
"We redirected members on Social Media with links and access to our mobile apps. We got a lot of positive response from members for enabling them to use the mobile channel."
Beyond the social media channels, the credit union did not issue further communications to members because "the event is over. ISP did what it should have done to provide protection," she said. "Our forensics team is reviewing the firewall protections and determining solutions to prevent another attack.
A website frequented by hacktivists boasted about the attack, and said, "Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters hit three more American banks including People's United Bank, UMB Bank and University FCU and simply made them completely out of reach." The group has claimed responsibility for several high profile DDoS attacks recently against big banks.
"We believe it was the Al-Oassam group that initiated the attack, but why UFCU? We don't know," said Wojcik. "We're small ($1.5 billion in assets) compared to the banks" that the group has hit."This was a big event. Credit unions thought that we're not vulnerable because the groups prefer to attack larger fish. This a surprise, that we are on the radar screen," she said. "All credit unions need to be on the alert. We're fortunate that our ISP worked so quickly" to stop the attack.