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Jason Morris
Jason Morris

Cyber Caliphate Association

Even if only the CENTCOM social accounts were compromised, it shows the sorry state of cybersecurity in the US government. And if the hackers were able to access confidential documents, it could show that ISIS is a more formidable cyber-opponent than some expected.

Cyber Caliphate Association


The ISIS attack shows that the United States may need to significantly step up its cybersecurity as it faces increasing threats from around the world. Between nationally backed hackers from countries like North Korea, and independent terrorists groups, there are more cybersoldiers than ever gunning for America.

In June 2014, the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also called Islamic State (IS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), declared a global caliphate (Islamic state ruled by a religious leader). By March 2015, ISIL had established its rule over sizeable portions of Syria and Iraq and benefitted from sympathetic supporters around the world. Starting in 2015, pro-ISIL supporters began waging indiscriminate cyberattacks against various Western websites and databases. Hackers specifically targeted websites or accounts with lower security protection.

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), also known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), is a Sunni jihadist group with a particularly violent ideology that calls itself a caliphate and claims religious authority over all Muslims. It was inspired by al Qaida but later publicly expelled from it. RAND terrorism experts have analyzed the group's financing, management, and organization; its savvy use of social media for recruitment and fundraising; and the instability that spawned the group as a regional problem in the Middle East.

The Russian government engages in malicious cyber activities to enable broad-scope cyber espionage, to suppress certain social and political activity, to steal intellectual property, and to harm regional and international adversaries.[1] Recent Advisories published by CISA and other unclassified sources reveal that Russian state-sponsored threat actors are targeting the following industries and organizations in the United States and other Western nations: COVID-19 research, governments, election organizations, healthcare and pharmaceutical, defense, energy, video gaming, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing. The same reporting associated Russian actors with a range of high-profile malicious cyber activity, including the 2020 compromise of the SolarWinds software supply chain, the 2020 targeting of U.S. companies developing COVID-19 vaccines, the 2018 targeting of U.S industrial control system infrastructure, the 2017 NotPetya ransomware attack on organizations worldwide, and the 2016 leaks of documents stolen from the U.S. Democratic National Committee.

The Russian Malicious Cyber Activity section below lists all CISA Advisories, Alerts, and Malware Analysis Reports (MARs) on Russian malicious cyber activities. See for additional partner products.

Much of the information contained in the Advisories, Alerts, and MARs listed below is the result of analytic efforts between CISA, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to provide technical details on the tools and infrastructure used by Russian state-sponsored cyber actors. The publications below include descriptions of Russian malicious cyber activity, technical details, and recommended mitigations. Users and administrators should flag activity associated with the information in the products listed in table 1 below, report the activity to CISA or FBI Cyber Watch (CyWatch), and give the activity the highest priority for enhanced mitigation.

This advisory provides an overview of Russian state-sponsored advanced persistent threat groups, Russian-aligned cyber threat groups, and Russian-aligned cybercrime groups to help the cybersecurity community protect against possible cyber threats.

CISA encourages you to report any suspicious activity, including cybersecurity incidents, possible malicious code, software vulnerabilities, and phishing-related scams. Reporting forms can be found on the CISA homepage at

CISA recommends users and administrators consult the Joint Advisory, Technical Approaches to Uncovering and Remediating Malicious Activity, which details technical approaches to uncovering malicious activity and includes mitigation steps according to best practices. This Joint Advisory is the result of a collaborative research effort by the cybersecurity authorities of five nations: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

On April 30, 2016, Cloudflare published a blogpost detailing how cyber criminals using this group's name were issuing random threats of carrying out DDoS attacks. Despite these threats, Cloudflare claim they failed to carry through with a single attack.[5][6] As a result of this, the British National Fraud Intelligence Bureau issued an alert warning businesses not to comply with ransom messages threatening DDoS attacks.[7][8]

On January 26, 2015, the website of Malaysia Airlines was attacked, apparently by Lizard Squad, calling itself a "cyber caliphate". Users were redirected to another page bearing an image of a tuxedo-wearing lizard, and reading "Hacked by Cyber Caliphate". Underneath this was text reading "follow the cyber caliphate on twitter" after which were the Twitter accounts of the owner of UMG, "@UMGRobert" and CEO of UMG, "@UMG_Chris". The page also carried the headline "404 - Plane Not Found", an apparent reference to the airline's loss of flight MH370 the previous year. Malaysia Airlines assured customers and clients that customer data had not been compromised.[25]

The Lebanese branch of Hizb-ut-Tahrir is another example of a group with a party-like structure. This small elitist organization has expressed dreams of creating an Islamic caliphate, but is generally oriented toward pragmatic party-based activities. It does not view the Islamic State as a legitimate manifestation of the desired Islamic caliphate.

Yet the Scholastic Salafis are mainly a social movement. They have no political project or vision for Lebanon, and they do not usually involve themselves in elections or other manifestations of political life. However, they can be seen as doctrinally aligned with Salafi-jihadis, which include groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. Northern Lebanon is home to around 20 Salafi associations or religious endowments that manage religious teaching institutes and a vast network of charities.

DescriptionAl Shabaab is an organized but shifting Islamist group dedicated to establishing a Somali caliphate, waging war against the enemies of Islam, and removing all foreign forces and Western influence from Somalia. It is currently the strongest, best organized, financed and armed military group in Somalia, controlling the largest stretch of territory in southern Somalia. Al Shabaab has carried out suicide bombings and attacks using land mines and remote-controlled roadside bombs, as well as targeted assassinations against Ethiopian and Somali security forces, other government officials, journalists, and civil society leaders. It has also carried out suicide bombings in Uganda in retaliation for the presence of Ugandan peacekeeping forces in Somalia. In October 2017, Al Shabaab detonated two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices in Mogadishu, killing 512 people and injuring 312 others. More recently, on December 28, 2019, Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a bombing at a busy intersection on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, killing at least 78 people and injuring at least 51 people. The group is believed to be closely linked with Al Qaida and formally pledged allegiance to Usama bin Laden and his terrorist network.

DescriptionJemaah Islamiyyah (JI) has its roots in Darul Islam, a violent radical movement that advocated the establishment of Islamic law in Indonesia. JI subscribes to a Salafist interpretation of Islam and aims to establish an Islamic caliphate spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern Philippines. JI has had cells throughout much of Southeast Asia and targets what it sees as enemies of Islam. JI has been responsible for a series of bank robberies, hijackings, and several major bombings of civilian targets, such as the 2002 attack on a night club in Bali, which killed 202 people and injured 500 others, including Canadians citizens.

Al-Nabhani himself was a sharia educator and later a judge, initially serving in the Sharia Court of Ramallah and subsequently in Jerusalem. Having lived through the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, Al-Nabhani believed that liberating Palestine was intertwined with reviving Islam as a political identity through the restoration of the Islamic caliphate and its institutions and functions in the region. Therefore, al-Nabhani did not conceive HT as an organization with a global reach; rather, he focused on building a strong presence of HT in Arab countries, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.

Thus, in order to counter HTI effectively, Indonesia must further empower and legitimize its institutions of democracy, including political parties, the parliament and the judiciary. Without competent and incorruptible stewardship of the republic, alternative ideologies and systems such as the sharia-based caliphate offered by Hizbut Tahrir will retain its appeal.

In 2015, TV5Monde, a French television channel, went offline after being hit by a cyberattack. A group named CyberCaliphate claimed responsibility for the attack, but another lead was quickly mentioned by a source close to the case. Investigators suspected APT28, a threat actor associated with the Russian military intelligence services. This link was later corroborated by cybersecurity companies such as Trend Micro and the former chief of the investigation of ANSSI. 041b061a72


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