US military says it successfully hacked ISIS

Mark Esper

U.S. military says it successfully disrupted ISIS’s online propaganda during a hacking operation from 2016, according to US Cyber Command (Cybercom) documents released on Tuesday.

These documents, hitherto classified as secret defense, indicate that the Cybercom “has successfully fought against ISIS in the field of information” and affected the capacities of the jihadist group to radicalize and recruit fighters “by imposing high costs on it in time and resources”.

Published by George Washington University and obtained under a law on transparency in administration, the documents analyze the conditions under which Operation “Glowing Symphony” was carried out, the first computer attack officially admitted by the Pentagon.

Cybercom concludes with a “significant reduction” in the IS recruitment campaign, but adds that its efforts have been slowed down by “long and difficult” administrative procedures to obtain approval for the operation.

Since Cybercom is intended to multiply this kind of computer attack, better procedures should be put in place to “speed up the process”, adds the US military command in what can be read from these documents.

The United States had already officially admitted adding the computer weapon to its arsenal, but these new documents are the most detailed ever published against ISIS, initially approved for 30 days in late 2016 and then extended in July 2017, according to the George Washington University website.

The documents do not indicate whether the operation was interrupted, but they “reveal the unprecedented complexity of this operation, which posed problems in terms of coordination and evaluation”.

The United States is concerned that extremist groups such as ISIS use social media and the internet to spread their propaganda.

According to George Washington University, these documents and public statements by Cybercom chief General Paul Nakasone provide clues to how the command operates and what it could do to respond to attacks on the American electoral process. In an interview with last year, General Nakasone revealed that a task force had been set up to “respond quickly to an attack” against the presidential campaign in 2020.

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