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U.S. Rallied 120 Nations in Response to 2012 Cyberattack on American Banks

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The flags of many nations.

When U.S. banks were subjected to a wide-ranging cyberattack campaign in 2012, rather than attack the problem at the source, the Obama administration asked 120 nations to block the computing traffic at nodes around the world.

Credit: Jir Hanu

In 2012, the Obama administration responded to a wide-ranging cyberattack campaign against U.S. banks not by attacking the problem at the source--believed to originate in Iran--but by appealing to 120 nations to block the computing traffic at nodes across the globe, according to current and former U.S. officials.

A strategy for hacking directly into the adversary's network in Iran was rejected as too provocative, so the administration requested that its allies cut off the traffic locally and remove the malware from the servers being used as springboards for the assault.

The U.S. State Department's Chris Painter says the administration made the argument that the countries do what they can to ameliorate the threat. "[They] have just as much of an interest in taking action because these are compromised machines," he says.

The attacks subsided, and this approach yielded what officials call a response model for addressing other, similar incidents.

Painter acknowledges the mobilization did not offer a complete panacea, but says it "certainly was very helpful in building that cooperative framework, and many countries were able to help."

From The Washington Post
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