“You’ll see no mercy, infidels. We are already here, we are in your PCs, in each house, in each office. With Allah’s permission we begin with Albuquerque.”
That was the ominous message posted by someone purporting to be affiliated with the Islamic State who apparently hacked the app of New Mexico’s largest newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, and threatened Albuquerque residents on Wednesday morning.
The posting was accompanied by the headline, “Christmas will never be merry any longer” and a dark photo of a figure wearing a black-and-white checkered head scarf. Text in the middle of the photo read “CyberCaliphate” and “I love you isis” [sic].
The post also stated, “While the us [sic] and its satellites are bombing the Islamic State, we broke into your home networks and personal devices and know everything about you.”
The hacker told Albuquerque residents, “You will look around more often, will call up your children more often, think of your security more often, but that won’t help you.”
The website shut down for several hours while the posting was removed.
The Journal posted a note on its website confirming the attack. It also stated that the FBI has been notified and “there was no data breach.”
Information Systems Director Monty Midyette said the alterations appeared to be limited to just one story.
News outlets have been reporting for months that ISIS has planned a “cyber caliphate” against U.S. technology using encrypted software.
In September, the FBI warned of possible cyber attacks in retaliation for U.S. air strikes against ISIS.
NBC News reported the FBI released a bulletin to law enforcement and U.S. businesses that cited “recent nonspecific and probably aspirational threats made on social media platform to carry out cyber as well as physical attacks in response to the U.S. military presence in the Middle East.”
The FBI warned that such attacks could include “messages expressing support for ISIS and/or … imagery such as the black ISIS flag or graphic imagery, e.g. pictures or videos of ISIS executions.”
Some Islamic militants have boasted online that they will soon be capable of attacking America’s infrastructure or financial system, according to Fox News.
“The jihadists are investing a lot in encryption technologies, and they have developed their own software to protect their communications, and when Western agencies work out how to crack them, they adapt quickly,” Steve Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, told Fox News in September. “They are forward-thinking and are experimenting with hacking. In the future, the jihadist cyber army’s activities will become a daily reality.”
Also in September, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers said he has been observing the cyber capabilities of the media-savvy terrorist group.
Rogers told a cybersecurity conference in Washington, D.C., “We need to assume that there will be a cyber dimension increasingly in almost any scenario that we’re dealing with. Counterterrorism is no different. Clearly, [ISIS] has been very aggressive in the use of media, in the use of technology, in the use of the Internet.”