Watch CBS News

Citizens Bank Hit By Possible Cyber Attack

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Add Citizens Bank to the list of financial institutions whose online banking websites are tough to access, Citizens officials confirmed on Friday.

"Our website has experienced temporary disruptions due to an unusually high volume of Internet traffic, similar to disruptions that have impacted other U.S. banks, " Sylvia Bronner, Citizens Bank spokesperson, said in a statement to KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

This problem of getting online at Citizens Bank is very similar to one that plagued PNC Bank several weeks ago.

There, a Middle Eastern group claimed they wanted to stop access online to banks because of their objections to alleged anti-Muslim videotapes on YouTube.

Citizens would not confirm that the al-Qassam Cyber Fighters had targeted them, too. But Carnegie Mellon University professor Michael Smith, an expert on cyber marketing, says the tactics are the same.

"They're trying to pretend to be real consumers accessing the website, and if you send enough of those requests, the website doesn't know which are the real consumers and which are the fake consumers, and the real consumers can't get access," said Smith.

It's called DDOS or distributed denial of service.

"The distributed means there are multiple computers all sending requests to the same seo services. And the denial of service reflects the fact that the goal is to keep legitimate customers from being able to access the computer," added Smith.

Smith says it's easy for cyber terrorists to do, but can also be minimized by banks; and while customer information is not compromised, studies show, "If I can't get access to a bank immediately, I'm going to go someplace else, or I could go someplace else, which is bad for business."

Cyber Attack On PNC's Online Banking Slows Customer Access (1/3/13)
Citing PNC, U.S. Attorney Says Pittsburgh Is Ground Zero For Cyber Attacks (1/11/13)
More Business News

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.