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Hackers attack 5 US banks in cybertheft

A number of U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase and at least four others, were struck by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month, according to four people briefed on a continuing investigation into the crimes.

The hackers infiltrated the networks of the banks, siphoning off gigabytes of data, including checking and savings account information, in what security experts described as a sophisticated cyberattack.

The motivation and origin of the attacks are not yet clear, according to investigators. The FBI is involved in the investigation, and in the past few weeks a number of security firms have been brought in to conduct forensic studies of the penetrated computer networks.

According to two other people briefed on the matter, hackers infiltrated the computer networks of some banks and stole checking and savings account information from clients. It was not clear whether the attacks were financially motivated, or they were collecting intelligence as part of an espionage effort.

JPMorgan has not seen any increased fraud levels, one person familiar with the situation said.

“Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyberattacks nearly every day,” said Patricia Wexler, a JPMorgan spokeswoman. “We have multiple layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels.”

Joshua Campbell, an FBI spokesman, said the agency was working with the Secret Service to assess the full scope of the attacks.

“Combating cyberthreats and criminals remains a top priority for the United States government,” he said.

—Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times

Shale oil in Te

THREE RIVERS, Texas — Whenever overseas turmoil has pushed energy prices higher in the past, John and Beth Hughes have curbed their driving by eating at home more and shopping locally.

But the crises in Ukraine and Iraq did not stop the Hughes family from making the two-hour drive to San Antonio the other day to visit the Alamo, have a chicken fried steak lunch and pick up $100 worth of guppies, vampire shrimp and dwarf crayfish for their fish tank before driving home to Corpus Christi the same day.

“We were able to take a day-cation because of the lower gas prices,” Beth Hughes, an office manager, said after pulling off the highway to buy 8 gallons of regular gasoline.

The reason for the improved economics of road travel can be found 10,000 feet below the ground here, where the South Texas Eagle Ford shale is providing more than 1 million new barrels of oil supplies to the world market every day. U.S. refinery production in recent weeks reached record highs and left supply depots flush, cushioning the impact of all the instability surrounding traditional global oil fields.

So despite Russian saber-rattling in Ukraine and the military advances of Islamic terrorists in Iraq, oil prices — and those at the pump — are easing.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.43 Thursday, according to the AAA motor club, nearly a dime lower than a month ago. Energy and travel analysts project the lowest gasoline prices this holiday weekend of any Labor Day since 2010, and the highest level of motor travel since 2008.

—Clifford Krauss, The New York Times