After restricting the sources of funding for terrorist and violent groups around the world, these organizations have resorted to new tricks to bring in the money needed to finance their operations in the countries they target.
Recently, the security services warned that terrorists have learned and mastered the use of ransomware programs, as they are carrying out cyber hacking operations on global sites and then asking for huge sums of money to decrypt the encryption that occurred as a result of hacking.
ISIS’s Cyber Caliphate Army made a threat through a video broadcast online in Arabic that said, “We are ISIS hackers. We will confront you through a massive cyber war.”
The broadcast described the confrontation as “the dark days that you will remember,” which will be practically explained through operations they described as “We will penetrate the websites of governments, military ministries, companies and sensitive global sites.”
As usual for extremist media, there is a continuation of exaggerating terrorist activities for the purpose of intimidation and dazzling, albeit in a random pattern that has nothing to do with the cyber media aura through which the members of the organization shined in the previous period, by inviting extremists from all parts of the world to go to their refuge and previous area of their alleged caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Major countries are making more efforts to overcome the growing threat posed by cyber-attacks to the economy and security, as digital armaments have become indispensable in the face of new-type armies, and cyber weapons have become attractive to countries with limited resources due to their asymmetric potential.
The ransomware programs revolutionized the concept of war as a whole and how to manage it, representing a new type of terrorism that transcends the traditional borders between crimes, sabotage acts and terrorism. ISIS urged its members of European descent to penetrate the cyber world and influence others and to develop their expertise in the internet and hacking, motivating them to sabotage in the name of the organization.
The evidence for this is that one of the most famous hackers in ISIS was British citizen Junaid Hussain, who was described as the “cyber mastermind” of the organization who had a prominent role in recruiting members before he was killed in Syria in an airstrike. Prior to his announcement of joining the terrorist organization, he was known for his hacking prowess. He was prosecuted after he managed to hack the address book of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in addition to penetrating the security of a large number of accounts of international companies and institutions that exceeded 1,400 hacks.
The link between ransomware and terrorism is inseparable from the fact that hackers who did not have a political orientation before joined extremist groups and became part of the extremist organization that embraced them and encouraged them to persist in their attacks.
Political researcher Abdul Sattar Abdul Rahman drew attention to the factors that tempt terrorist organizations to use cyber terrorism, including that it can be implemented from anywhere in the world, and the perpetrator does not have to be on the location of the terrorist act, as internet connections needed to carry out the attack using any modern mobile phone are widely available.
In a study entitled “Cyber terrorism: A threat to the world” issued by the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, Abdul Rahman indicated that cyber attacks depend on the speed of the internet connection used by the attacker, and even the high speed of the internet connection used by the computers under attack can be exploited, meaning that viruses and other malicious software can spread as quickly as possible without the need for further intervention from the attacker.
The study addressed the difficulty of tracing ransomware and piracy due to anonymization services and similar camouflaging techniques like using hacked computers.
The low cost of the internet, the large number of targets that can be targeted, and targets lacking sufficient protection also increases the allure of cyber terrorism.