ISIS Supporter Hacks U.S. News Outlets
American media outlets were attacked Tuesday by a hacking group claiming to support the militant Islamist group ISIS. The group, calling itself the CyberCaliphate, targeted the Twitter feeds of two news outlets, along with the Web site of another, according to reports. The hackers replaced the news organizations’ banners with the black-and-white flag of ISIS and the message “I love you ISIS.”
Other than the vague statement of support for the militant group, the hackers have made no other statement regarding their aims and have not indicated why they chose those specific organizations to attack.
Local News in Maryland, New Mexico Targeted
The hacking group hit the Twitter feed and Web site of WBOC-TV, a local CBS television affiliate located in Salisbury, Maryland. The station discovered Tuesday afternoon that the password to its Twitter account had been changed, shortly before its Web site was hijacked as well.
According to WBOC-TV, the hacker posted pro-Islamic State propaganda and links through the site before the station was able to regain control later that day. The CBS affiliate notified local police and has been contacted by the FBI.
Meanwhile, the Twitter feed of a second local news organization, the Albuquerque Journal, was also hijacked yesterday by the same group, according to a report by the Associated Press. Like WBOC-TV, the Albuquerque, New Mexico newspaper also regained control of its feed later that day, but not before the attackers used it to publish information including the driver's license numbers of state residents. The hacking group also warned that other personal information was also at risk, according to the AP.
Tuesday's attack was actually the second time that the Albuquerque Journal had been targeted by Islamist sympathizers in as many weeks. Its Web site was also attacked on Christmas Eve, when someone replaced the newspaper’s main story with Islamic State propaganda, according to the AP report. The FBI confirmed that it was investigating the attack.
No Obvious Connection
There does not seem to be any obvious connection between the two organizations that were targeted, aside from the fact that they are both media outlets. However, WBOC said that the FBI has informed station officials that other media companies throughout the country have also been experiencing similar attacks.
It is also difficult to determine if the person or group behind the attack is actually a member or supporter of ISIS, or is just using the militant Islamic group’s notorious reputation to generate attention. For example, Lizard Squad, the hackers responsible for taking down the Sony PlayStation Network on Christmas Day and diverting the flight of one of its executives with a bomb scare, said that it had planted the ISIS flag on Sony’s servers, despite the fact that observers doubt it had any connection to the group.
The two cyber intrusions were followed by a deadly terrorist attack against a French satirical newspaper on Wednesday that left 12 people dead. The gunmen are thought to be Islamic militants seeking to punish the paper for stories critical of Islam, although it's unclear if they're connected to ISIS.