ISIS has rebuffed the declaration of cyberwar Anonymous issued on Sunday.
“The #Anonymous hackers threatened in new video release that they will carry out a major hack operation on the Islamic state (idiots),” reads a message posted Monday in a Telegram channel believed to be affiliated with ISIS hackers.
“What they gonna hack,” it continues. “All what they can do is hacking Alansar twitter accounts, emails etc.”
The message includes a list of tips to counteract Anonymous’ hacking attempts.
Anonymous issued its declaration of war following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, in which 129 people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
“The war has been declared,” a person with a hood and a Guy Fawkes mask says in the Anonymous video. “Prepare yourselves. These attacks cannot remain unpunished. This is why Anonymous from all over the world will hunt you down. Expect many cyberattacks.”
Anonymous on Wednesday tweeted that it has taken down 5,500 Twitter accounts affiliated with the militants since beginning Operation ISIS.
— #OpParis (@opparisofficial) November 17, 2015
Anonymous also posted the details, including a physical address, of a person it claimed was an ISIS recruiter in Europe, according to the Independent.
However, Anonymous’ track record of identifying extremists is spotty, the paper cautioned.
“The ultimate thing Anonymous could do that would be effective would be to ID people with an affinity to ISIS, but that could have bad consequences” said Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst at IT Harvest.
“They could ID the wrong people,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Hackers do that all the time.”
Sabotaging ISIS websites could be another effective tactic, noted Scott Borg, CEO and chief economist at the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.
Anonymous could have an impact on recruitment efforts, since a large measure of ISIS recruiting is done through websites.
“Anonymous could block those websites. It could deface them. It could interfere with the servers being used to host those websites. So they could do quite a bit harm to the recruitment efforts of ISIS,” Borg told TechNewsWorld.
“Anonymous, unlike government agencies, isn’t going to be shy about causing a certain amount of collateral damage to achieve what they want, so they can be more effective than anyone official,” he added.
However, there are those who discount the impact of any war Anonymous could wage on ISIS.
“It isn’t like Anonymous is going to be able to launch missiles at ISIS, so the true amount of damage they’re going to be able to inflict is going to be somewhat limited,” Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told TechNewsWorld.
“Anonymous is an organization of Internet trolls,” observed Jeffrey Carr, CEO of Taia Global.
“They’ve never had much in the way of technical skill when it comes to hacking,” he told TechNewsWorld.
One of the group’s weapons — taking down Twitter accounts — is a weak one, he noted. “If someone takes down a Twitter account, how long does it take to get one back up? It’s an inconvenience at best.”
More Harm Than Good?
Anonymous’ war on ISIS could do more harm than good for the people for whom they’re seeking retribution.
“There are counterterrorism operations around the world monitoring much of the communication of terrorists, and Anonymous could disrupt those activities and at the worst, damage them,” said IT Harvest’s Stiennon.
However, any damage Anonymous could do might be worth the risk, maintained the Cybersecurity Consequences Unit’s Borg.
“They might interfere with some of the government monitoring of ISIS, but the government has other options and other ways of tracking ISIS,” he pointed out. “I think that if Anonymous is clever, they might interfere with ISIS’ activities enough so it would be worth the small damage they might do to the government’s ability to monitor ISIS.”