Anonymous Strikes ‘Extremist Website’

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The hacking group claimed responsibility for disabling a France-based website as part of OpCharlieHedo

Hacking group Anonymous has claimed its first success in a campaign against online extremists announced in the wake of last week’s Paris shootings.

Meanwhile, the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the US military’s Central Command were disabled for several hours, apparently as the result of a hack by supporters of the Islamic State.

Hacker, cyber crime © Stokkete, Shutterstock 2014

Anonymous, known for high-profile hacks intended to support political causes, posted a Twitter message claiming responsibility for disabling a France-based website it associated with extremists. The website remained unavailable as of Tuesday morning, redirecting to a search engine.

Anonymous posted the news on the Twitter account @OpCharlieHebdo, set up as part of the group’s campaign to protect “the press’ freedom” from “obscurantism”.

“Anonymous has always fought for the freedom of speech, and will never let this right besmirched by obscurantism and mysticism,” the group said in a message on the code-sharing site Pastebin announcing the campaign. “Charlie Hebdo, historical figure of satirical journalism has been targeted. Anonymous must remind every citizen that the press’ freedom is fundamental to democracy. Opinions, speech, newspaper articles without threats nor pressure, all those things are rights you can’t change.”

The group promised a “massive frontal reaction”.

Anonymous said it would target social media accounts supporting extremism and released a YouTube video in support of its campaign.

Centcom sites hacked

The United States Central Command (Centcom), a command of the US Department of Defence, said a hack of its Twitter and YouTube accounts was mere “cyber-vandalism” and did not represent a serious hack.

The accounts were suspended after messages supporting Islamic State appeared on them, including a Twitter message stating “I Love ISIS” (another name for Islamic State) and “American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back”.

Several documents related to issues such as North Korean and Chinese security were also released, but Centcom said these contained only publicly available information.

The hack occurred as US president Barack Obama was delivering a speech on cyber-security, in which he said last November’s hack on Sony Pictures was a reminder of the “enormous vulnerabilities for us as a nation and for our economy” presented by the Internet.

Centcom said in a Monday statement that the hack had no operational impact and that no classified information had been compromised.

“We are viewing this purely as a case of cyber-vandalism,” the command said. The accounts returned to visibility later on Monday.

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