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ICT Cyber-Desk Review: Report #19

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This report covers the period of October – December 2016, on two main subjects: cyber-terrorism (offensive, defensive, and the media, and the main topics of jihadist discourse) and cyber-crime, whenever and wherever it is linked to jihad (funding, methods of attack).

During the period under review, terrorist organizations and their supporters continued to operate in the cyber world in similar ways as during the previous period. Nonetheless, it seems that recent emphasis was placed on the following:

Considerable weight was given to the field of cyber protection, seemingly against the backdrop of increasing efforts by countries battling against terrorism to take the fight to the cyber world as well.

The changes to the Islamic State’s situation in the physical world in general, and in Syria and Iraq in particular, influenced the scope and nature of the organization’s activity in the cyber world as well. For instance, the organization’s media institutions placed emphasis on the terrorist attacks that it carried out in Syria and Iraq – those allegedly carried out in the territory of the coalition countries fighting against the organization – and on encouraging lone wolf attacks in those countries. In our opinion, this type of propaganda is designed to overshadow the defeats suffered by the organization during the period under review, as well as the difficulties that it currently faces. Other terrorist organizations operated in a similar manner as they did in the past.

The offensive cyber activity carried out by terrorist elements during the period under review mainly included Web site breaches and defacements, acts that reflect their technological capabilities. The offensive cyber activity carried out by criminal elements mainly included attacks for financial gain (including attacks to obtain ransom payment), most of which used platforms that were offered “for rent” by various hackers. It should be taken into account that activity carried out through rented platforms that enable an attack is liable to be adopted by terrorist organization as a means of funding their activities.       

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