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On Nov. 13, terrorists who were later linked back to the extremist group ISIS, attacked several locations in Paris, France. The attack killed 129 people and wounded another 352. The French government declared war on the group in response to the bloodshed, but they were not alone. While the rest of the Western world showed their support for the country by changing profile pictures on social media to the colors of the French flag and setting up memorials outside French embassies, the hacktivist group Anonymous declared digital war on ISIS.
“Anonymous to ISIS: ‘Expect massive cyber attacks. War is declared.'”
On Nov. 15, an alleged member of the hacking group released a video on YouTube in which he or she stated in French, “Expect massive cyber attacks. War is declared. Get prepared. Anonymous from all over the world will hunt you down. You should know that we will find you and we will not let you go. We will launch the biggest operation ever against you.” According to Time magazine, Anonymous targeted the extremists once before after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, after which the hackers removed thousands of ISIS Twitter accounts.
What will come of Anonymous’ announcement?
In the time that Anonymous has been working against ISIS, the group has managed to take down nearly 149 of the extremists’ websites, brought attention to 101,000 Twitter accounts and pinpointed 6,000 pro-ISIS propaganda videos, as reported by Foreign Policy. Because Anonymous works outside the laws in most countries and the members are not identified, the group has the potential to infiltrate crucial ISIS cyberspace and pass that intelligence on to policy makers who can use it accordingly. They can also use methods that would be illegal or unethical for government officials and the military. The true numbers of Anonymous are not known, but if the group stretches as far as it claims, perhaps they do have the potential to cripple ISIS on a digital front.
Anonymous’ announcement that it would use the hacking skills of its members to make digital war against the extremist militant group is a prime example of the power of hacktivism. You can learn more on this topic by reading the case study conducted by the National Cybersecurity Institute. For more information on cybersecurity or to learn more about specific information security subjects, visit NCI’s website, where you will have access to experts’ blogs and podcasts.