Cyberterror Caliphate: Jihadists are Hacking the Internet

 

Radical Islamic terror may be best known for planted explosives and suicide jihadists, but what comes next may be equally terrifying.

Imagine a world where barbaric, all-in tactics meet the Internet, where both the Western and Eastern world host nearly everything.

Jihadist organizations seem to be “upping their game” when it comes to terrorism; surprisingly, through an intellectual outlet known as hacktivism—or cyberterrorism, there’s a bit of a thin line between the two terms.

Given a long leash, I did a moderate dive into some of the underbelly of the Internet for Rabble and this article.

In my exploration on the more vulnerable side of the web, I often find sites that have been hacked and defaced by Islamic hackers who want to use their skills to represent their particular flavor of radical islam. Usually it’s the owners of small businesses, blogs and forums that need to worry about this sort of modern-day hijacking. Their aim is often to silence the online speech of a party that does not agree with them or their holy teachings.

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The attacks are increasing and that means jihadi hackers are growing.

It’s no wonder that these attackers are slowly starting to find themselves with more and more power due to increasing machine/human interconnectivity. Just recently a hacker named Ardit Ferizi was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison for hacking into a database and extracting identity related information on over 1000 U.S. federal employees. He provided ISIS with this information knowing that they would use it against our public servants.

We are only at the beginnings of exploring what these vulnerabilities mean for our broader safety and security.

Victims could be tracked down and murdered, captured, or blackmailed using information taken from an online databases. Now, we’ve known for some time that islamic hackers have been defacing small time websites and “doxxing” people they disagree with in order to blackmail them. After all, money makes the world go round, even for terror groups like ISIS which is valued at billions of dollars.

What if cyberterrorism could have a direct impact on the physical world? Well that’s starting to become more possible than ever before.

In a research paper (PDF file) David Livingstone, Chairman at CyberCloud Ltd., and Patricia Lewis, Research Director at International Security Department, exclaimed that little is being done to account for the issue of securing the digital presence of objects—machines, vehicles, and other equipment—in outer space. One cyberthreat they listed was: “Terrorist groups wishing to promote their causes, even up to the catastrophic level of satellite collisions with space debris including a cascade of collisions – called the Kessler Effect, denying the use of space for all actors”.

We’re not in Kansas and this is no longer small time. While it hasn’t happened yet, we should assume, on a curve, it will—and soon.

Hacking has a growing track record of successes under its belt with the meltdown of a nuclear reactor via the STUXnet virus, which was allegedly implemented in a cooperative effort by the United States government and Israel to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. It’s very probable that Islamic cyberterrorist groups will soon reach a similarly palpable level of sophistication in their attacks.

During the first presidential debate last week, Republican nominee Donald J. Trump argued, “[w]e came up with the Internet, but when you look at what ISIS is doing on the internet they are beating us.”

“We have to get very, very tough on cyber-warfare.”

“Beating us” may be an oversimplification, but the next wave is coming, if it’s not already here.

Time to ask your resident nerd about two-step authentication, because the next cyber criminal may be trying to threaten more than just your bank account.

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