Threat Management, Incident Response, TDR

Pro-ISIS hackers threatens Facebook and Twitter

Sons Caliphate Army, a group of pro-ISIS hackers, posted a video displaying photos of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey on Wednesday. The threat, in retaliation for the companies' efforts shutting down terrorist groups' social media accounts, was posted on the Telegram channel of the Cyber Caliphate offshoot.

The Sons Caliphate Army and Cyber Caliphate Telegram channels were both shut down as of Thursday.

Twitter said earlier this month that it has shuttered 125,000 terrorist-affiliated accounts in the last six months. In the latest video, Sons Caliphate Army claims to have hacked 15,000 Facebook and Twitter accounts. “You announce daily that you suspended many of our accounts. Is that all you can do?” the video claimed. “You are not in our league. If you close one account we will take 10 in return and soon your names will be erased after we delete your sites.”

Pro-ISIS hackers have successfully hacked the Twitter accounts of some media and even military groups, but these have typically been individual attacks. It has been difficult for the groups to scale their efforts. Law enforcement officials have repeatedly downplayed the capabilities of ISIS hacking groups.

“For the most part, the cyberthreats that terrorist groups have made, have not materialized, at least not to the extent that they have claimed,” Dave Weinstein, director of cybersecurity at the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, told “They tend to be loud and proud about their successes, but their rate of failure is extremely high.”

“Their successes reveal relatively novice-level hacking techniques,” Weinstein added.

As Twitter becomes more active in shuttering ISIS-affiliated accounts, Telegram will remain by far the most important platform for terrorist groups, said Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Stalinsky called Twitter's recent efforts to remove accounts affiliated with terrorist groups “unprecedented” for the company. Twitter was unable to be reached by press time. Facebook declined to comment on this story.

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