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FBI wants to know if US banks launched revenge hacks against Iran


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Your parents might have told you that revenge solves nothing, but it's not clear that American banks have learned the same lesson. Bloomberg sources understand that the FBI is investigating whether or not US financial institutions hired hackers to conduct retaliatory hacks against Iran, crippling the servers that had been used to attack the companies starting in 2012. There isn't any hard evidence banks acted on their anger, although they at least came close. JPMorgan Chase acknowledged that one of its officials proposed an offshore strike that would have knocked the Iranian servers out of commission. The staffer didn't offer a full-fledged plan, however, and nothing appears to have come out of the idea.

It's sometimes tempting for these firms to hit back. The US government may try to prosecute hackers targeting corporations, but it doesn't (officially) launch counterattacks to shut them down unless the President approves. Banks may see it as the only way to get justice or prevent sensitive info from getting into the wild. However, there are also plenty of reasons to hold off. Revenge hacks might lead the original attackers to return fire, and possibly raise the stakes -- a simple website defacement could turn into data theft. In that sense, the FBI investigation is less about punishing companies and more about preventing them from making a costly mistake.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

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