This week, select members from the hacking team Anonymous announced they had successfully infiltrated and taken down various social media accounts and email addresses belonging to the international terrorist organization ISIS.
In a statement released by the group, the vigilante cyber warriors said:
“ISIS, we will hunt you, take down your sites, accounts, emails and expose you… You will be treated like a virus, and we are the cure. We own the internet.”
The statement started to take a bit of an odd turn after that, bringing religion and fanatacism into the mix. Though it’s still too early to speculate, this could mean that whoever was behind the attack could hail from one of the countries currently under threat from the extremist organization.
“Remember – the terrorists that are calling themselves Islamic State (ISIS) are not Muslims. We are Muslims, we are Christians, we are Jews, we are hackers… We come from all races, countries, religions, and ethnicity.”
“We are hackers, crackers, hacktivists, phishers, agents, spies, or just the guy from next door. We are students, administrators, workers, clerks, unemployed, rich, poor. We are young, or old, gay or straight. We wear smart clothes or Uggs. We come from all races, countries, religions, and ethnicity. United as one, divided by zero. We are Anonymous”.
The group posted a Pastebin link in the announcement containing all the Twitter accounts that were disabled as a result of their work, along with a short addendum including the few Facebook profiles they managed to get their hands on in the assault.
The takedown has been branded #OpISIS by the group, and this only looks to be the start of a long campaign that Anonymous will be waging for months to come.
Perhaps more disturbing is that it was Anonymous, not the NSA or United States government, who was able to break in first.
You would expect that for a terrorist organization that relies so heavily on social media to spread its message and recruit new members, the US’ massive monolith of a surveillance network might be good for something else besides spying on its own citizens.
That’s not to say the NSA doesn’t have tabs on all these accounts, but it’s nice to see two groups, once so vehemently opposed to each other on a basic level of moral conduct, working together to squash out an evil in pursuit of the common good. “The enemy of my enemy”, as they say.
The news comes just a day ahead of this morning’s attacks on the front pages of Newsweek and the International Business Times, both of whom had their Twitter handles temporarily fall into the hands of an ISIS associate, the Cyber Caliphate.
During those short few hours, ISIS threw out threatening statements at First Lady Michelle Obama, along with two photos that looked to be left over from the CENTCOM hack of last month.
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Anonymous actually live up to their self-imposed “hacktivist” title, and it’s a nice change that they’re still able to use their powers of intrusion and exploitation for some good in the world.