ISIS hackers had vowed to take down the mighty Google, but ended up downing Add Google Online, an Indian-owned SEO website, instead. Hackers affiliated with the Islamic State, or ISIS, seem to have hit the wrong target, and reportedly this isn’t the first time.
According to Metro, the hacker group, named the Cyber Caliphate Army (CCA) had announced via the secure messaging app Telegram they were planning to hack Google’s website on Monday. However, Google services continued as normal, and their website did not appear to have been affected in any way.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) March 1, 2016
In a message seen by Newsweek, posted to the Telegram channel, the Cyber Caliphate Army had said on Monday, “We promised to hack Google.”
Taking a partial leaf out of Anonymous’ notebook, CCA ended their message with, “Keep the promise inshallah, expect us today.”
Instead of their prime mission of downing Google and its website, the ISIS hackers instead hacked into the website Add Google Online, and then proceeded to deface the home page with various ISIS imagery, along with a message stating the website had been “hacked by CCA.”
Reportedly in the background, a French language Islamic State song was played, the wording of which promised, “We will kill you without pity … for Allah alone we wear suicide belts.”
However, that website, despite its name, has nothing to do with Google and merely offers search engine optimization (SEO) services to local businesses, hoping to up their status on the Google search engine. The website reportedly belongs to an Indian company named Always Say.
When visiting the website at the time of writing, there was at first merely a message, obviously targeted back at the ISIS hackers, saying “Eat this ISIS,/,.”
On entering the website, it appears to have now been taken over by a competing hacker and displays the message “Pwned by n3far1ous,” along with a further message warning that “Security is just an illusion,” pictured in the screengrab above.
The initial attack by the ISIS hackers follows similar work by CCA on various arbitrary targets, including a Japanese dance instructor, a laminate flooring company based in Wales and a small solar energy company based in England.
The latter website, belonging to Solar UK, was hit with a cyber attack at the end of January. According to CCA, that cyber attack was in revenge for a drone strike that killed a prominent ISIS hacker by the name of Junaid Hussain.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 29, 2016
According to Michael Smith, an adviser to the U.S. Congress and co-founder of national security firm Kronos Advisory, the recent increase in cyber attacks by ISIS hackers also signals an increase in the group’s online capabilities.
Smith says that while the recent targets are relatively small, with the latest being an obvious mistake, this demonstrates ISIS hackers have far more sophisticated capabilities than Al-Qaeda with which to damage the interests of its enemies.
Smith told Newsweek that he expects these activities to become more common, saying they can reasonably expect to see the ISIS hackers’ focus widen from attempting to break into government systems to access military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement information to far more dangerous ambitions, like hacking to attack critical infrastructure systems.
For now they have hit an SEO website instead of Google, which is expected to be securely safeguarded from access by ISIS hackers and other cyber attacks.
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 1, 2016
In the meantime, according to the Daily Caller, U.S. military hackers are currently “dropping cyber bombs” on ISIS. Hackers are reportedly actively hitting ISIS online with new, top secret cyber weapons.
The military hackers are working to destroy the ability of ISIS to command and control their units on the battlefield and to reduce their ability to use the Internet to garner both support and new recruits.
[Photo via Twitter]