Accustomed to the world's most formidable terrorist group, ISIS, making headlines overseas for its wrath in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, many Americans were shocked to see the militant Islamic organization force its way into their living rooms last week through their computer screens and electronic devices with the chilling message: "We are already here."
Hacking into New Mexico's most widely read newspaper, The Albuquerque Journal, members of the Islamic State made their message to Americans in the Southwest loud and clear.
"You'll see no mercy, infidels," the online terrorists communicated to the paper's online readership. "We are already here, we are in your PCs, in each house, in each office. With Allah's permission we begin with Albuquerque."
The terrorist hackers titled their ominous message last week with a headline intended to cancel out Christmas cheer: "Christmas will never be merry any longer." The posting included a shaded photograph of a man donning a head scarf patterned with black and white checkers, emblazoned with the words "CyberCaliphate" and the phrase "I love you isis" [sic] below it.
Indicating that they have infiltrated American society much more than it thinks, the ISIS hacks delivered another disturbing message in its newspaper posting: "[We know] where you live, what you eat, your diseases, health insurance cards …" the hacked Albuquerque news site read.
Also included in ISIS's cyberattack was its claimed retaliatory reasoning for the Christmastime threat: "While the us [sic] and its satellites are bombing the Islamic State, we broke into your home networks and personal devices and know everything about you," the tech-savvy Muslim jihadists divulged to online viewers.
In another attempt to instill fear into Albuquerque readers, the ISIS techie warned Americans throughout the Southwestern city that they will never be at ease about their family's safety again: "You will look around more often, will call up your children more often, think of your security more often, but that won't help you," the hacker promised residents of the Duke City.
Taking quite some time to regain full control of its website, the Journal had to take its site off line for several hours to completely eradicate it of the terrorist rhetoric.
Informing site visitors of the cyberattack, the paper notified them about the reasoning behind the shutdown, assuring readers that "there was no data breach" and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was fully aware of the hack job.
After looking into the extent of the cyberattack, the Journal's information systems director Monty Midyette discovered that all of the terrorist-created modifications to the website were contained to only one news story.
Don't say I didn't warn you …
Despite the shock many Americans are experiencing over ISIS's Internet hack job, those in tune with media reports have been expecting something of this nature for some time, as various news hubs have been circulating announcements over the past several months that a "cyber caliphate" was slated to use its encrypted software to target technology in the United States. These media warnings began around the time U.S. airstrikes were launched against ISIS in the Middle East in September, when the FBI announced that possible cyberattacks could be launched against America in retaliation.
National Security Agency director Michael Rogers communicated a similar message at the cybersecurity conference in the nation's capital the same month, indicating that his agency had been keeping tabs on ISIS and its Internet-savvy techies' ability to wreak havoc via cyberattacks.
"We need to assume that there will be a cyber dimension increasingly in almost any scenario that we're dealing with," Rogers insisted, according to WND. "Counterterrorism is no different."
He noted that ISIS should in no way be underestimated regarding its capabilities to attack U.S. information systems. "Clearly, [ISIS] has been very aggressive in the use of media, in the use of technology, in the use of the Internet," Rogers stressed.
Another warning issued by the FBI to law enforcement officials and businesses within the U.S. was announced to the American public via NBC News.
"[There have been] recent nonspecific and probably aspirational threats made on [a] social media platform to carry out cyber, as well as physical, attacks in response to the U.S. military presence in the Middle East," the disseminated FBI report warned. "[These cyberattacks could be in the form of] messages expressing support for ISIS and/or … imagery such as the black ISIS flag or graphic imagery, e.g. pictures or videos of ISIS executions."
Middle East Media Research Institute executive director Steve Stalinsky told Fox News at the onset of airstrikes against ISIS in September that numerous claims have been made by Muslim terrorists on the Internet that they are preparing to bombard and stymie the infrastructure or economy of the United States.
"The jihadists are investing a lot in encryption technologies, and they have developed their own software to protect their communications – and when Western agencies work out how to crack them, they adapt quickly," Stalinsky alerted America. "They are forward-thinking and are experimenting with hacking."
Stalinsky ended with an ominous warning to the U.S.: "In the future, the jihadist cyber army's activities will become a daily reality," he stated.