Civil libertarians are concerned that this program and others like it will target other countries and that the NSA will eventually hold the data longer than what was defined its original charter and use it for other reasons.'This is a truly chilling revelation, and it's one that underscores how high the stakes are in the debate we're now having about bulk surveillance,' Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director, said in a statement.
'The NSA has always wanted to record everything, and now it has the capacity to do so.'The White House would not comment on the specific program described by the Post.
The attackers, who took aim at Bank of America first, went after their targets in sequence.
The Islamist group Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters publicly claimed responsibility for the attacks in what it called "Operation Ababil," but researchers are divided about how seriously to take their claims.
The group has launched attacks in the past, but those have been far less coordinated than the recent batch. Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut, said in a C-SPAN interview on Wednesday that he believed the attacks were launched by Iran.
The servers had to be compromised and linked together into a network called a "botnet." That level of pre-planning is a deviation from the kinds of denial of service attacks launched at banks in the past by so-called "hacktivists." Typically, hacktivists use home PCs infected with malware to amass their botnets.
Attacks on this scale would be impossible to carry out with home PCs -- users too frequently turn them off or disconnect them from the Internet.
This NSA program dates to 2009 and is called MYSTIC, according to documents obtained by the Post.