CyberCaliphate Takes French TV Station Offline and Off-Air
The web services of TV5Monde (TV5World) was attacked on the evening of April 9th in a very thorough way. The attack was claimed by ISIS-linked hacking group CyberCaliphate and affected all arms of the organization – broadcasting, websites, and social media accounts.
The scope of the attack was such that experts say it required a great deal of planning and coordination. The group, which supports the Islamic State and operates with the explicit intention of bullying online media outlets who do not openly support the same, hijacked TV5Monde’s Facebook page and replaced their profile picture with the ISIS logo. In a more terroristic move (social media hijacking often being considered more like hijinx), the group posted the ID cards of French citizens who are related to soldiers presently deployed in anti-ISIS operations. Whether these ID cards actually belonged to such relatives has yet to be confirmed by the French government.
All 11 of TV5Monde’s French channels were down for several hours Thursday night and Friday morning while technicians examined the damage of the breach. By Friday afternoon, things were back to normal.
ISIS Hates The French
The French have an increasingly dotted history in the eyes of ISIS. The Charlie Hebdo incident was perhaps the most disturbing terror attack of the year, when in January gunmen stormed the headquarters of the satire publication and killed twelve staff members. Previously, in 2011, the same magazine had been firebombed in retaliation for putting a cartoon picture of the Prophet Mohammed on its cover. The incident in January has had the effect of raising the magazine’s profile significantly. The first issue after the attack had more than 8300% of their usual print run, at 5 million copies.
At the government level, the French government passed a law a few years back which essentially banned the wearing of the hijab and burqa, traditional face coverings of Muslim women. The law was controversial in that it dictated what people could wear in public, but it has held despite numerous challenges from International organizations. France stands alone as far as specifically banning face coverings, and Amnesty International has said this move is one against freedom of expression.
Police Agencies Investigating the Attack
According to a post on TV5Monde’s website, 13 agents from the national police were dispatched to investigate the attack.
The National Security Agency Information Systems (ANSSI) has sent 13 of its staff to the headquarters of the French channel to try to stop it. Their work is expected to last “several days.”
More details will likely surface during the investigation. The culprits are already known, but of interest to our readers will be exactly how such a wide-ranging attack could have happened. Inside job? After all, they seemed to have access to everything all at once. That’s no small feat.
Featured image from Shutterstock.