Wells-Fargo's website suffered intermittent outages Tuesday in what The Wall Street Journal characterized as the latest in a series of cyberattacks targeting large U.S. banks.
The outages began Tuesday morning, according to user postings on the website SiteDown.co. By early afternoon, the bank had posted a message on its Twitter account apologizing to customers for what it called "limited access" to wellsfargo.com, including their online banking accounts.
"We are working to quickly resolve this issue," the bank added, noting that customers could still access their accounts by phone or by visiting branch offices or ATMs.
The story took a bizarre turn after a posting appeared on Pastebin.com by a group calling itself the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters. The group -- which last week claimed responsibility for attacks on Chase.com and Bank of America -- said the attacks "will be continued until the removal of that sacrilegious movie from the Internet."
It was an apparent reference to a YouTube video that has roiled many in the Muslim world who say it insults the Prophet Muhammad.
Asked for comment by this newspaper, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman e-mailed a copy of the same statement posted in the bank's Twitter account.
The Pastebin message said U.S. Bank's website would be targeted Wednesday, and PNC Financial Services' site on Thursday. The message said the attacks will begin at 2:30 p.m. Greenwich mean time on each day and last for 8 hours, with more to follow until the movie is taken down.
The Wall Street Journal reported that about 220 Wells Fargo customers had posted outage complaints on SiteDown as of Tuesday afternoon. Roughly 1,300 people used the same site to note outages on Chase and Bank of America last week, the newspaper reported.
The Journal quoted an unnamed Wells Fargo spokeswoman calling the outage "a systems problem" and noting that no customer information was compromised.
The newspaper also quoted a cybersecurity expert named Dmitri Alperovitch, who's been investigating last week's attacks, as calling the incidents "unprecedented." Alperovitch, chief executive of security firm CrowdStrike, noted that "the amount of bandwidth that is flooding the websites is very large, much larger than in other attacks."
Contact Peter Delevett at 408-271-3638 or email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/mercwiretap.