Hacker(s) identifying as “ISIS cyber army” claimed responsibility for hacking fifty-one American websites on March 24.
Each of the hacked websites was defaced with the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a statement that the website was “Hacked by Islamic State [sic],” and an e-mail address for the ISIS cyber army, the unit believed to be behind the cyber activities of ISIS. In the past, the ISIS cyber unit claimed responsibility for involvement in a series of attacks against a number of Israeli websites.
The recent ISIS cyber-attack targeted a variety of websites, ranging from simple online retail stores to forums to help pregnant women—all websites perceived to be technically vulnerable.While the attack does not show a high level of technical capabilities by ISIS, it demonstrates their commitment to engaging directly in cyber warfare.
According to a tweet by the ISIS_cyberarmy Twitter account , the recent cyber-attackwas a message to “the dog of the Jews, Obama.” ISIS and its supporters have regularly referred to President Obama as a “mule of the Jews,” and the phrase “dog of the Jews” may be a variant of this.
The ISIS_cyberarmy Twitter account, which appears to have been suspended as of March 25, was previously followed by more than a thousand ISIS supporters.The account published the urls of the hacked websites and linked to a statement on justpaste.it, a file-sharing website regularly used by ISIS and its supporters to post information, which also included the list of hacked websites and the seal of what appears to be the ISIS cyber army. The statement on justpaste.it started with an Islamic prayer in Arabic and included the seal of the ISIS cyber army.
Recordings showing the defaced websites were also posted on Aljyyosh (“the armies” in Arabic), an online forum for Arab hackers, which in the past has been a hub for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hackers. The videos show the hacked websites defaced with ISIS flags and an e-mail address of the ISIS cyber army.
In the past, several prominent hacker groups launched cyber-attacks in support of ISIS, but recently ISIS escalated its cyber activity by claiming direct responsibility for hacking personal information of 100 American military personnel and publishing the information on a “hit list.” These hackings are the latest example of what appears to be direct activity by ISIS’s cyber unit.Earlier this year, social media accounts of the U.S. military’s Central Command were hacked by a group that claimed to be acting in support of ISIS.
This capability to engage in cyber-attacks may be a reflection of ISIS’s calls for support from individuals with various skills, from media experts to doctors, to join and contribute to the group and its territory however they can.
The tactic of hacking U.S. websites may also be related to ISIS’s calls for small-scale and lone-wolf attacks against the U.S. and its interests. In the past, ISIS has recruited outside hackers and hacking groups to undertake such cyber-attacks on its behalf.
Promoting the hackings of American websites with anti-Semitic language demonstrates how ISIS’s anti-Semitic sentiment extends into its subdivisions, including its cyber arm. Like other Islamic extremist terror groups, ISIS has been known to use anti-Semitism to appeal to followers.