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Patriot hackers disrupt al-Qaeda websites

Ellen Degeneres teaches bombers to bake cupcakes

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Patriot hackers have interfered with al Qaeda's ability to issue videos and messages to supporters via a series of apparently coordinated denial of service attacks against Jihadist websites.

No one has claimed responsibility for the reportedly sophisticated denial of service attacks. Denial of service attacks, at their most basic, involve flooding targeted websites with junk traffic, such as Ping floods. More sophisticated attacks typically involve application layer assaults and attempts to disguise the geographical origin of packets in an attempt to bypass basic traffic filtering techniques.

"Al Qaeda's online communications have been temporarily crippled, and it does not have a single trusted distribution channel available on the internet," Evan Kohlmann, of Flashpoint Global Partners, told MSNBC. The assaults were "well-coordinated and involved the use of an unusual cocktail of relatively sophisticated techniques," Kohlmann said, adding that it may take jihadists several days to restore their internet presence to normal.

The attack is far from the first of its type. Purported ex-military hacker Th3J35ter has claimed attacks on various Jihadi websites in the past, along with attacks on WikiLeaks and its supporters.

Last year sites offering copies of English-language Jihadist magazine Inspire were targeted in an imaginative counter-intelligence operation. British intelligence agents hacked into the sites before replacing downloadable editions of the magazine, which included instructions on how to make bombs, with a PDF containing what looked like gibberish after a few pages. In reality the gibberish material contained nothing more malign than recipes for making cupcakes culled from a book assembled by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

However would-be Jihadists were left with the impression they might have downloaded malware, a ruse that succeeded in stymying interest in the site for several weeks. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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