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ETrade: Service Denied

|Jan 4|magazine7 min read

A “malicious” cyber attack offshore of Australia forced the shutdown of ANZ Bank’s ETrade, Australia’s second-biggest online broking business.

A denial-of-service attack resulted in thousands of emails flooding the broking site, prompting the shutdown. This shutdown continued during the Christmas to New Year period. ETrade customers attempting to access accounts overseas first noticed the lockout as the bank denied access to all overseas users. Access was restored following the performance of risk assessments on individual countries.

Some countries were unable to access accounts for almost two weeks. Users offshore were principally affected; however, customers in Australia had intermittent access on Dec. 19 and 20, said an ETrade spokesman.

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''We experienced some malicious activity that impacted the performance of the ETrade website prior to Christmas,'' he said in a statement. ''We responded immediately to minimise any disruption to our clients and ensure our data remained secure … we were able assist customers that made contact to execute trades … At no stage was security of the ETrade site breached.''

The spokesman did not elaborate further on details of the attack.

The financial and insurance industry was labelled the “target of choice” in cyber threat landscapes, according to a paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology. This sector is exposed to a ''wide range of financially motivated cyber criminal activities'' because of its increasing dependence on information and communications technology.

A denial-of-service attack prevents customers and the business from trading, but can also mask other illegal activities. This can lead to the loss of value of potential business, as well as the customer base’s goodwill and reputation that increasingly desires on-demand service.

The financial impact on ETrade is difficult to predict with the market closed for part of the period and lower-volume trading.