Newsweek’s Twitter account was hijacked Tuesday by a group identifying itself as the Cyber Caliphate.
Not much is known about the Cyber Caliphate, save that the group supports the Islamic State, commonly called ISIS. Like the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) in recent years, the CC it possesses the technical skill and desire to temporarily hijack news sites’ social media accounts, spreading propaganda briefly before order is restored.
But the CC’s goal seems a little cloudy. In its brief time with Newsweek’s voice, it claimed that, “While the US and its satellites are killing our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan we are destroying your national cybersecurity system from inside.” It’s not clear if it was claiming it had some larger plan up its sleeve, or if it wanted Americans to think that a handful of tweets from the @newsweek name was somehow tantamount to national descruction.
It also tweeted a vague threat to Michelle Obama, and a handful of “leaks” of what appeared to be random documents from U.S. government sources. None were classified, and they included what appeared to be an organizational chart from the country’s Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy and some students’ scanned report cards. At least one, which the CC claimed was “Confidential documents about Pentagon warfare in social networks” is available for anyone to see online at Cryptome.
A Newsweek representative told the Daily Dot in an email: “We can confirm that Newsweek’s Twitter account was hacked this morning, and have since regained control of the account. We apologize to our readers for anything offensive that might have been sent from our account during that period, and are working to strengthen our newsroom security measures going forward.”
Former Newsweek employee Brian Ries, who previously ran the company’s Twitter account, said he had been warned by the FBI of a similar attack by the SEA, and that he’d prepared the company for such an event.
As of this writing, @newsweek is back to normal, and the U.S.’s national cybersecurity system has not been destroyed from the inside.
Illustration by Max Fleishman