The world's biggest banks and stock markets are being targeted by hacktivist group Anonymous in a campaign called #OpIcarus to bring financial institutions to a grinding halt. But why are hackers attacking banks, who's behind it and what do they hope to achieve? In an interview, a member of the Ghost Squad Hackers who claims to be helping spearhead the attack reveals all.

Why are hackers taking down banks?

A hacker going by the name of 's1ege', who is described as the leader of operations at Ghost Squad Hackers, is allegedly engaging in #OpIcarus and spoke to Anonymous Intelligence Group to answer the burning question. The hacker claimed the movement is "a retaliation to the 1%" as "elite banking cartels [are] putting the world in a perpetual state of chaos."

In Anonymous's original campaign message it claims banking and other financial institutions have formed a "clandestine coalition" with government intelligence agencies and arms industries and s1ege explains that "elite banks are creating wars decimating the Middle East and destroying the economy."

The GSH hacker revealed why he wanted to get involved "due to the state the world is in because of the elite sending my family members to war for their monetary gains and oil, Big Pharma and also creating wars with no empathy and destroying lives with no remorse."

How is Anonymous doing it?

Anonymous announced its 30-day operation would be one of the biggest assaults in its history with the Greek Central Bank falling as the first victim with a DDoS attack that shut down its website for several hours on 3 May 2016. The movement has been growing since February 2016 when members of the hacking collective first announced #OpIcarus with the aim to take out 160 banks including The Bank of England and the New York Stock Exchange. Since then further financial institutions have been briefly taken offline using DDoS attacks.

In an effort to get as many people behind the campaign as possible the hacktivists have posted online how-to instructions, targets, dates and downloadable tools to carry out the attacks. DDoSing appears to be the method of choice which, in the simplest explanation, overloads a website with traffic to cause it to effectively seize up and shut down.

Who's the next target?

The GHS hacker was forthright in revealing plans for OpIcarus when asked about targets: "Our target list includes every bank. Crippling the financial structure of the Elite is our main target and whatever it takes to achieve it." s1ege revealed the next strikes for #OpIcarus will be "US and UK banks leading up to NASDAQ, NYSE and Paypal."

Banks that have been targeted have not yet disclosed how much damage each attack has caused or if any monetary loss has incurred. Each hack has come with varying degrees of severity depending on how far Anonymous could penetrate security with some banks websites down for hours to only a few minutes. The Anonymous campaign will continue with more institutions being targeted throughout the month-long movement and IBTimes UK will be covering the cyber-attacks.