Islamist-hackers in the the Middle East and Maghreb are planning to launch cyberattacks against U.S. government agencies, banks and companies this week, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The attacks, labeled #OpUSA (standing for "Operation USA"), and reportedly done in the name of the famed hacker group Anonymous, are slated to commence Tuesday.
“OpUSA poses a limited threat of temporarily disrupting U.S. websites,” the DHS bulletin stated, adding that the hackers will employ such tools as “nuisance-level” strikes, as well as disabling website and defacing them temporarily.
“Some of the participants possess only rudimentary hacking skills,” DHS stated. The Washington Times adds:
More dangerous, though, is the developing alliance the organization of the attacks seems to presage between criminal hackers and violent Islamic extremists.
The bulletin notes that the attacks are being promoted by the moderators of websites and discussion forums that host al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist material, in addition to calls through more conventional hacker channels like the bulletin board Pastebin.
This collaboration may “signal an emerging trend of Middle East- and North Africa-based criminally motivated hackers collaborating with others regardless of their motivation,” like Islamic extremists, states the bulletin.
According to DHS, "Middle East and North-Africa-based criminal hackers will continue issuing public statements to announce cyber attack plans against high-profile targets,” but said it is monitoring information as well as potential alliances formed between Anonymous and jihadists.
DHS noted that future statements made by either jihadist or cyber-attacker online feeds “may provide insight into whether these [hacker] groups are radicalizing toward violence and whether they would potentially partner with or conduct attacks on behalf of violent extremists.”
Anonymous is, of course, no stranger to controversy nor to siding with dubious entities. Earlier in the month the hacker group launched a wave of cyber attacks against Israeli websites in the name of freeing the Palestinian people.