Czech finance sector hit by cyber attacks

DDOS attacks take down Prague Stock Exchange and central bank websites

The Czech financial sector was targeted in cyber attacks on Wednesday, with the national bank and stock exchange websites disrupted by dedicated denial of service (DDOS) attacks.

The Czech National Bank's official website was the victim of a "massive cyber attack" on the external server hosting its site, before being brought back online later that day. The attacks overloaded servers with thousands of requests, making them inaccessible to the central bank's customers.

However, the bank said in a statement that its internal IT systems were unaffected by the disruptions. "We apologise for any difficulties experienced by visitors to the CNB website due to the outage," said CNB spokesman Marek Petru in a statement.

Other major banks were also targeted, including CSOB, Ceska Sporitelna and Komercni Banka, as well as a number of smaller banks. It is not believed that customer data has been compromised.

The Prague Stock Exchange also had its website taken down on Wednesday. according to Reuters, with a spokesman claiming that a "co-ordinated" attack by hackers was likely to be responsible.

Earlier this week a number of Czech news outlets were targeted by the cyber attacks, with the website of the broadsheet newspaper DNES taken down.

There have been a number of DDOS attacks against banks across the world in recent months. Earlier this week the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters group promised to continue a series of attack against US banks which began in October with DDOS attacks against JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, CapitalOne and Citibank among others. The group indicated it would cease its campaign of attacks in January.

In January two members of Anonymous were jailed in the UK for their part in DDOS attacks against a number of financial services companies including Visa and Mastercard. Last month Anonymous posted personal details of 4,000 bankers, after breaching defences of the US Federal Reserve.

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