New federal rule requires banks to fight DDoS attacks

Banks and financial institutions regulated by the federal government must now monitor for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against their networks and have a plan in place to try and mitigate against such attacks, a federal regulatory body said this week.

In what is ground-breaking regulation for bank security, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) issued a notice defining six steps it wanted banks and other financial institutions to follow, including first setting up a program to assess risk to IT systems, then monitoring Internet traffic to the institution's website to detect attacks, and being prepared to activate incident response plans with ISPs.

The FFIEC is an inter-agency body empowered to set standards on behalf of its members, which include the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Board. These are the primary regulators of finance, and as such the FFIEC's dictum about DDoS compels the banking industry to confront the DDoS problem.

+ ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD  Wells Fargo's website buckles under flood of traffic | DDoS attacks against banks raise question: Is this cyberwar? | How do the FBI and Secret Service know your network has been breached before you do? +

"This is the first shot from the U.S. government to the private sector that says you have been put on notice to defend against these cyberattacks," says Rodney Joffe, senior vice president and senior technologist at Neustar, which provides anti-DDoS protection services.

The FFIEC anti-DDoS requirement comes in the wake of a series of massive DDoS attacks against the websites of U.S. banks in late 2012 that left several of them unable to provide banking services online for a number of days.

"In the latter half of 2012, an increased number of DDoS attacks were launched against financial institutions by politically motivated groups," the FFIEC statement says. "These DDoS attacks continued periodically and increased in sophistication and intensity. These attacks caused slow website response times, intermittently prevented customers from accessing institutions' public websites, and adversely affected back-office operations."

The FFIEC also notes that sometimes DDoS attacks will serve as "a diversionary tactic" by criminals in the course of attempting to commit fraud of various kinds.

The FFIEC doesn't dictate specific technologies, but it makes it clear that financial institutions have to monitor for attacks, have a response plan and "ensure sufficient staffing for the duration of the DDoS attack and consider hiring pre-contracted third-party servicers, as appropriate, that can assist in managing the Internet-related traffic flow." In addition, banks are expected to "identify how the institution's ISP can assist in responding to and mitigating an attack."The FFIEC also wants banks and others to share attack details with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center and law enforcement.

The FFIEC statement points to a number of references, such as the "DDoS Quick Guide" from the Department of Homeland Security and publications from the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityendpoint securityfinanceWells Fargoindustry verticalsanti-malwareWide Area Network

More about FBIFederal Deposit InsuranceFinancial InstitutionsIDGTechnologyWells Fargo

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Ellen Messmer

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts