Security Firm Issues Warning Over ISIS Cyber Attacks

By James O Malley on at

ISIS - otherwise known as Islamic State (though I prefer ISIS as it sounds more evil) isn't just a threat to people in Syria and Iraq. The terrorist group and its sympathisers are also threatening western media outlets, one security firm has warned.

FireEye has published a report on the online activities of sympathisers and points out that that they have regularly compromised the websites and social media accounts of a number of high profile outlets like TV5 Monde in France, as well as smaller, such as the Albuquerque Journal in America.

What's also a little a scary is that whilst these attacks have been claimed by a group calling itself the "Cyber Caliphate", it appears that orders are not being issued centrally from ISIS leaders - it is more a case of individuals acting off their own backs to cause chaos and disruption. This suggests that beating the hackers will be trickier as like Al Qaeda before them (remember the, umm, good old days?) they are united more in ideology than in command structure.

FireEye has warned that "News media organisations are enticing targets for terrorist sympathisers and national governments. Those outlets with inadequate security, from the largest globe-spanning operations to small market news stations, could find themselves as the next unsuspecting victim of ISIS-sympathisers."

This makes sense too. Whilst government IT systems are likely to be ultra-secure to protect secret data, journalists want to share information widely - so there will be many more openings into their systems. One threat identified by FireEye suggests that the integrated nature of modern newsrooms - which can link together various publishing systems - could be vulnerable as the various systems will all share access with each other.

Unfortunately too, ISIS isn't the only threat. One of the other sides in the Syrian civil war has also been playing the same game - with the Syrian Electronic Army having seized a number of social media accounts. Perhaps even worse, the Chinese and Russian state both operate sophisticated hacking operations. Apparently during the Hong Kong "umbrella" protests last year, one hacking group from the mainland disrupted access to a number of news websites.

Don't worry though - we've changed Gizmodo's passwords to what we believe to be an ultra secure one. We thought if we make the password "password", it will be too mind-blowingly meta for the terrorists. [FireEye]