Islamic State’s online army is a Russian front, says German intelligence

A German intelligence report alleges that the so-called ‘Cyber Caliphate’, the online hacker wing of the Islamic State, is in fact a Russian front, ingeniously conceived to permit Moscow to hack Western targets without retaliation. The group calling itself Cyber Caliphate first appeared in early 2014, purporting to operate as the online wing of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), later renamed Islamic State. Today the Cyber Caliphate boasts a virtual army of hackers from dozens of countries, who are ostensibly operating as the online arm of the Islamic State. Their known activities include a strong and often concentrated social media presence, and computer hacking, primarily in the form of cyber espionage and cyber sabotage. Continue reading

Iowa utilities joining drill simulating knockout blow to nation’s power grid

While some measures are being taken, it might be too little, too late to be fully prepared for when the national power grid is lost. A US government commission report states that up to two-thirds of the population will die from starvation, disease and societal chaos within just a year. Another report states that it could be even worse: 9 out of 10 Americans would perish. Losing the power grid, whether it be from a terrorist attack or an overdue solar storm, would no doubt wreak havoc. Phones wouldn’t work. ATMs wouldn’t work. Hospitals couldn’t function. Airplanes would be grounded. Wall Street would come to a halt, as well as government services.

As worries increase about the vulnerability of the nation’s power grid, Iowa’s largest electric utilities will participate next week in a closely watched exercise simulating a knockout blow to United States’ electrical supply by cyber-sabotage and physical attacks.

Officials with MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy confirmed to the Des Moines Register they will be involved in GridEx II on Nov. 12 and 13. The event is sponsored by the North American Electric Reliability Corp., a non-profit entity whose mission is to ensure the reliability of the bulk-power system in North America. Continue reading

Iranian Cyber Attacks Step Up

The Iranian government recently conducted a major cyber attack on a major U.S. financial institution that a military intelligence report said is a sign Tehran is waging covert war against the West.

The cyber attack was not successful but was one of several Iranian-backed electronic strikes detected in recent months that highlights the growing threat from Tehran, a major backer of international terrorism, according to a recent report by the Joint Staff intelligence directorate, known as J-2.

No other details were available on the previously undisclosed attempted Iranian financial cyber attack.

A Joint Staff spokesman declined to comment.

In the past, China and Russia were singled out as major nation-state cyber threats, using their militaries and intelligence services to conduct sophisticated cyber-espionage and preparation for future cyber sabotage in a conflict.

Now, Iran is emerging as a strategic threat to U.S. cyber systems that control critical infrastructure such as military systems, financial networks, communications, the electrical power grid, transportation networks, and other vital functions.

“They’re technically proficient, well-funded, and have placed a top priority on cyber defense and offense thanks in large part to the high number of sophisticated malware discovered on their oil and energy networks,” said Jeffrey Carr, a cyber warfare specialist.

Full article: Iranian Cyber Attacks Step Up (Washington Free Beacon)