ISIS has been catching hell from hackers, especially after the slaughter of Charlie Hebdo magazine staffers in Paris, but the Islamic State has not been without its own cyber-war victories. On Tuesday, as the Washington Examiner reports, hackers claiming to work for the Islamic State managed to gain control of the Twitter account for Newsweek, using it to post enemy propaganda, documents ostensibly stolen from the U.S. military, threats of further “cyber jihad,” and even a blood-curdling threat against the Obama family.
The hackers wrote threats on the Newsweek account:
“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, under the flag of the Islamic State CyberCaliphate its [sic] CyberJihad,” a message posted to Newsweek’s official account read Tuesday.
The group that hacked Newsweek Tuesday has in the past hacked the Twitter account of the United States Central Command and the official Twitter account of Taylor Swift.
“While the US and its satellites are killing our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan we are destroying your national security systems from inside. With Allah’s permission we continue CyberJihad inside Pentagon’s computer networks. Today we publish confidential documents from the US National Cyber secutiry [sic] Center,” the message added.
Newsweek’s account then tweeted a threat directed at the first family: “Bloody Valentine’s Day #MichelleObama! We’re watching you, you girls and your husband! #CyberCaliphate.”
The Pentagon documents posted by the hackers concerned an analysis of “warfare in social media” that was billed by the attackers as a “leak” of “confidential” information, but in fact the documents are clearly labeled as unclassified.
The cyber-attack ended with some more chest-thumping:
The Islamic State is already here, CyberCaliphate got into your PCs. We know everything about you and your relatives, and we’re much closer than you can even imagine. You’ll see no mercy infidels. We also support our brothers who’re liberating the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan… There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet! There is no law but Sharia!
With that, Newsweek’s IT department apparently regained control of their Twitter account and shut the intruders down. Managing editor Kira Bindrim apologized for any offense readers might have taken from the pirate Tweets, and vowed to “strengthen our newsroom security measures going forward.” Newsweek’s own post on the incident said the hackers were in control of their account for a total of 14 minutes.
Newsweek also notes that the hackers replaced their account profile images with a picture of a masked terrorist and the black Islamist flag, plus the message “Je su IS IS,” a play on the “Je suis Charlie” or “I am Charlie” message of defiance shared around the world after the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Newsweek believes this is the same hacker group previously responsible for hacking the Twitter accounts of the U.S. Central Command and singer Taylor Swift. The Washington Post adds that “Cyber Caliphate” fingerprints were on recent hacks of local news stations and Malaysia Airlines. When the social media accounts of news stations in New Mexico and Maryland were hacked in early January, they were used to post ISIS propaganda messages very similar to those broadcast with Newsweek’s stolen account.
The gang also apparently got into the Twitter account of Latin Times and the official website of International Business Times on Tuesday, both of which are owned by the same parent company as Newsweek.