French Media’s Emergency Meeting After Isis Hack

France’s culture minister is to call an urgent meeting after the public service television network TV5Monde was taken over by individuals claiming to belong to Islamic State, blacking out broadcasts as well as hacking its websites and Facebook page.

All TV5Monde broadcasts were brought down in a blackout by hackers claiming allegiance to Isis. They were able to seize control of the television network founded by the French government in 1984, simultaneously hacking 11 channels as well as its website and social media accounts.

Experts say the cyber-attack represented a new level of sophistication for the Islamist group, which has claimed complex hacking before, but nothing as big as this. The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened a terrorism investigation into the attack.
The culture minister, Fleur Pellerin, said she would bring together all heads of big French TV companies as well as newspaper groups and the news agency Agence France-Presse within 24 hours “to assure myself of their vulnerable points, any risks that exist and the best way to deal with it”.

The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said France had already increased its anti-hacking measures to protect against cyber-attacks following January’s gun attacks on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and the bloody hostage-taking at a Kosher grocery store in Paris, which left 17 people dead.
The Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, called the attack on TV5Monde “an unacceptable insult to freedom of information and expression”.

During the attack, the hackers posted documents on TV5Monde’s Facebook page purporting to be the identity cards and CVs of relatives of French soldiers involved in anti-Isis operations, along with threats against the troops.
 “Soldiers of France, stay away from the Islamic State! You have the chance to save your families, take advantage of it,” read one message.

TV5Monde had regained control of its social networks by 2am the next day but said television broadcasts were likely to take hours, if not days, to return to normal. The station restored its signal later in the morning but was still only able to broadcast pre-recorded material.

It is likely that this targeted attack by pro-Isis forces took weeks to implement, with multiple stages and attacks needed to take the French TV station offline.

The attack appears to have been orchestrated by the Isis hacking division, which took credit for alleged attacks resulting in the leak of personal information of US military personnel in March, prompting an investigation by the Pentagon. Hackers claiming to work on behalf of Isis have seized control of the Twitter accounts of other media groups, such as Newsweek, and in January they hacked into the Twitter page and YouTube site of the US military’s Central Command.
The hackers had accused the French president, François Hollande, of having committed “an unforgivable mistake” by getting involved in “a war that serves no purpose”.
“That’s why the French received the gifts of Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher in January,” it said on the broadcaster’s Facebook page, referring to the bloody twin attacks by Islamist gunmen in Paris which traumatised France.
France is part of a US-led military coalition carrying out air strikes against Isis in Iraq and Syria, where the jihadi group has seized swaths of territory and declared a caliphate. More than 1,500 French nationals have joined the militants’ ranks, where they represent almost half the number of European fighters present, according to a recent report released by the French Senate.

Guardian:


 

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