The Turkish military has determined that the cyber capabilities of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are poor and claimed that high-profile hacking attempts were in fact carried out by a Russian group posing as ISIS.
According to an internal military memo prepared by Col. Can Sert, head of the Center for Cyber Incidents (Siber Olay Merkez Başkanı), ISIS mainly gathers information from open sources and tries to present it as if it were obtained through a successful hacking attempt. The memo concluded that ISIS has no superior cyber attack capabilities and merely tries to exploit known vulnerabilities in gaining access to low-level, secure websites, and has no ability to develop its own malware.
The Turkish military memo:ISIS_Turkish_military_memo
The memo, said to be based on Turkish and NATO intelligence assessments, noted that ISIS uses cyber space to collect information on the military strength of targeted countries, raise funds, promote its propaganda and maintain communication links among its members. It recalled that ISIS-linked hacker groups such as Cyber Caliph, Cyber Jihad and the Islamic State Hacking Division have so far targeted US Centcom, Newsweek, the Albuquerque Journal, WBOC 16, TV5 Monde and the Daily Mirror.
It further added that the hack of French TV station TV5 Monde, which required high-level expertise, was in fact conducted by the APT28 Russian hacker group posing as ISIS. The memo warned that ISIS could enhance its capabilities using its financial resources and continue to pose a threat to Internet-based systems.
Nordic Monitor previously revealed how APT28, Advanced Persistent Threat 28, operates under the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). APT28, set up in 2007, not only conducts cyber espionage and steals data but also attempts to influence the flow of information about conflicts, the note underlined, adding that Russian hacker groups other than APT28 had already carried out a series of attacks against Turkish government entities, private industry, aid groups and human rights organizations.