The shadowy “hacktivist” group Anonymous recently claimed responsibility for hacking the City of Ferguson, Missouri's computers and releasing personal information about police officers, resulting in threats of violence against them.
The group takes credit for the “hacktivism” which helped solve the notorious Steubenville rape case. The nearly invisible, loosely associated group of hackers also has launched cyber attacks against The Vatican, Egypt and North Korea. The group updates its list of hacks on Wikipedia.
Now, it's turning its sights on ISIS in a campaign called #OpNoISIS.
Forbes Magazine announced the start of the effort in June. An Anonymous source quoted by the magazine claimed that since the hackers can't get ISIS targets directly, they'll attack the countries which support it:
“We plan on sending a straightforward message to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and all other countries that evidently supply ISIS for their own gain,” the source said. “In the next few days we will begin defacing the government websites of these countries so that they understand this message clearly.”
Because of the extensive web of Anonymous accounts on Twitter and the fact that ISIS actually hacked into one of the Anonymous Twitter accounts recently, it's difficult to determine who the real members are. But to the extent that these are legitimate, it appears the group is ramping up the threats.
Bravado? A Symantec security expert told Forbes that is probably the case. But the issue is whether ISIS and its possible ally, a jihadi hacktivist group known as the The Syrian Electronic Army, will strike back. As Forbes notes:
Perhaps the most dangerous effect of any Anonymous campaign will be the inevitable reprisal. So far, ISIS supporters have largely shunned online attacks, but this could easily change.
If the Anonymous claims of a link up between the Syrian Electronic Army and ISIS are to be believed, the damage they could wreak on Western targets could be much more than simply symbolic. Let’s not forget that one false tweet from an AP account wiped more than $90billion from the US stock market. Provoke ISIS’ digital supporters and they will strike back, possibly bringing the fight to America without a single shot being fired.
Anonymous has already launched cyber attacks against Turkey several times in the past and, in fact, several of its hackers were arrested by the Turkish government. It has hit cyber targets in Saudi Arabia in the past, as well.
Those countries, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have all invested in cyber security in response to the real and threatened attacks on those countries' cyber infrastructure.