Bank of America banking center in Times Square in New York.
Tourists walk past a Bank of America banking center in Times Square in New York. Photo by Reuters
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Cyber attacks carried out this week against the websites of JPMorgan-Chase and Bank of America were carried out by the Iranian government, U.S. national security officials told NBC News on Thursday.

The hackers' claim that the attacks were prompted by the YouTube video ridiculing Prophet Mohammed, according to one of the sources, was used as a cover story for the attack.

Both banks’ websites experienced denial-of service attacks earlier this week, a tactic used by hackers to bring down websites by overwhelming them with a large number of requests. Both banks acknowledged encountering problems on their websites, but neither explained the causes.

A statement posted online on Tuesday claiming responsibility for the cyber attack said that they were targeting "properties of American-Zionist Capitalists," naming both Bank of America and New York Stock Exchange, as a "first step," however there was no report of any sort of attack on the New York Stock Exchange.

The statement said that the attack will continue until the video is removed. the message was concluded by saying "Down with modern infidels, Allah is the Greatest."

The report quoted a former U.S. cyber-security official saying an Iranian cyber attack on the U.S. was expected. Testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, Frank Cilluffo, who served as a special assistant to president George W. Bush, said that “the government of Iran and its terrorist proxies are serious concerns in the cyber context. What Iran may lack in capability, it makes up for in intent. They do not need highly sophisticated capabilities - just intent and cash - as there exists an arms bazaar of cyber weapons, allowing Iran to buy or rent the tools they need or seek.”

Cyber-warfare in reference to Iran first made the headlines in 2012, after the Stuxnet computer virus was detected. Later reports claimed that the virus was developed by the United States and Israel. The virus targeted the uranium-enrichment centrifuges at Natanz.

Subsequently, Iran reported it was attacked by two other spyware programs which were also attributed by many to Israel and the U.S. One of the spywares, named Duqu, was primarily used for surveillance; the third, Flame, used cyber-attack tools and was able to erase data from hosting computers.