Swiss bank and forex brokerage Swissquote has sent out an email to clients confirming that the firm faced a major DDoS attack (distributed denial of service) on its systems and networks on May 6, 2015. The consequence was that access to Swissquote systems and services was only partially available and the response time to access the servers was very slow.
Swissquote reassures its clients: “We are currently investigating the criminal origin of the attack and are working hard to secure the quality of our services.” Should they experience the same issue in the future, the firm has developed a workaround to access its services by using alternative website addresses.
The attack on Swissquote occurred on the same day as the forced shutdown of fellow Swiss bank and brokerage Dukascopy. A Dukascopy spokesperson stated to Finance Magnates’ reporters on May 7, “As you may know yesterday starting from 12:31 GMT to 13:44 GMT Dukascopy servers were down due to a DD0S attack. The DDoS attack was successfully mitigated and we expect that it will not be repeated. Protection measures have been implemented, including enabling third party services specializing on such kind of threats.”
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A Distributed Denial of Service attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming its servers with traffic from multiple sources. Hackers build networks of infected computers, known as ‘botnets’, by spreading viruses through emails, websites and social media. Once infected, these computers, known as zombies, can be controlled remotely by the hackers, without their owners’ knowledge, and used like an army to launch an attack on any target.
Botnets can generate huge amounts of traffic, overwhelming a target server. The traffic can be generated in multiple ways, such as sending more connection requests than a server can handle, or having zombie computers send them huge amounts of random data to use up the target’s bandwidth. Both binary options providers and brokers have been targets of similar attacks in recent years.
Swissquote and Dukascopy did not release any details on the possible source of the attacks as of yet. However, usually these type of attacks are part of an extortion campaign by criminal organizations. Cyber security experts describe that the hackers either send ransom demands to stop an attack in process or offer their “protection” in exchange for routine payments.