Cybercriminals have different motivations to hack into protected systems, from taking bank information to sell in underground markets to stealing intellectual property to make another nation more competitive in the global market. Hackers can also be driven to infiltrate companies for political purposes. Recently, hackers targeted several financial institutions and major banking companies, causing a data breach of customer information, including at JPMorgan Chase, Bloomberg reported.
Politically Charged Cyberattacks
However, the main reason for the attacks may not have just been about money. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the attacks with sources close to the investigation saying the attackers may have originated in Eastern Europe, with a focus on Russia.
One of the reasons why the FBI is concentrating on Russia in its investigation of the breach is due to the rise in attacks from hackers in Russia and Eastern Europe against the financial sector in the U.S., according to Bloomberg. There has been speculation that the attack was politically motivated due to U.S.-imposed sanctions on Russia for instigating the conflict in Ukraine, Bloomberg reported. The FBI is working to determine whether the attack against U.S. banks - a crucial economic sector - was an act of defiance in response to the sanctions, which may threaten to lower growth in Russia.
Politically charged attacks have been fueling cybercriminal activity as another group known for these types of hacks is the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), which often posts messages of support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on its victims' websites. In July, SEA hacked into the Twitter account owned by the Israeli Defence Force and ended a post that said "Long live Palestine," Jewish Press reported. This post could have been in response to the Israeli airstrikes that targeted Palestine.
Security Concerns at JPMorgan
Aside from IT security experts wondering about the political reasons for the JPMorgan attack, the latest high-profile data breach brings up questions about corporate security in the financial industry - one of the hardest hit sectors in the U.S. The breach at JPMorgan occurred in the middle of August. The information that has been breached at the affected organizations includes checking and savings account information.
In a response to the attack, JPMorgan said large companies often have to fend off cyberattacks on a daily basis.
"Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyberattacks nearly every day," Patricia Wexler, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, said in an email statement. "We have multiple layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels."
This is not the first data breach for the banking giant. Last year, JPMorgan experienced a data breach that may have exposed the information of 465,000 customers that used prepeaid cash cards, Reuters reported. The breach impacted government employees as the cards were used to pay benefits and provide tax refunds.