The FBI is investigating the hacking of a number of small business websites in the US and Europe by people claiming to be affiliated with Islamic State (Isis).
The Isis logo appeared on the landing pages of the targeted websites along with the message: “Hacked by Islamic State (Isis). We are everywhere.”
Internet marketing firm Eyeflow is one of the US firms whose website was hit. The company believes it was targeted because of its international philanthropy, chief executive Phil Laboon told CNN.
“If Isis can hack web websites, it is a way for them to not be in the country but spread fear,” he said.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Center in Ireland is reportedly the latest website to be defaced in a similar way as the Eyeflow website.
Other businesses that reported website defacements at the weekend include a federal credit union, a brewery, a hotel, a racing track, a zoo, a digital marketing agency and a not-for-profit organisation.
However, law enforcement and security analysts said they suspect the hackers are not linked to Isis, according to NBC News.
“There are no indications that the individuals behind these latest hacks have any real connection to Isis,” Evan Kohlmann of global security Flashpoint Intelligence told NBC.
“These defacements have taken place amid a spate of recent attacks where ordinary hackers have cynically used far-fetched references to Isis as a means of attracting media attention.”
Most organisations affected by the attacks are reportedly back up and running, but the defacements have once again highlighted that many organisations’ websites remain a soft target for hackers.
Even if hackers cannot gain access to an organisation’s back-end systems through the webserver, denial of service attacks can severely affect businesses that rely on websites.
Internet businesses at risk
Law enforcement officers are also warning that, as cyber attack kits, tools and services are increasingly becoming available online for any would-be cyber criminal to use, organisations need to be prepared.
Some cyber attack investigators believe that any business connected to the internet can and will be the target of cyber criminals, who are continually expanding their ability to steal money and data.
Cyber crime is estimated to cost the global economy around $445bn a year. The losses are both direct and indirect, with many businesses experiencing downtime or lost productivity.
Last week, UK police arrested 57 cyber crime suspects in 25 separate operations in the past week co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Suspects were arrested in connection with:
Carrying out a distributed denial of service attacks on more than 350 websites with some aimed at commercial competitors;
Stealing intellectual property from a London financial firm, stealing email addresses and passwords from Yahoo in 2012;
Stealing information about the global communication system used by the US Department of Defense;
Carrying out phishing attacks;
Committing cyber-enabled fraud;
Developing, distributing and acquiring cyber crime tools.
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