The US has begun launching cyberattacks against ISIS, The New York Times reports, marking a significant shift in its battle against the terrorist organization. According to the Times, the US Cyber Command has been tasked with carrying out the campaign, which aims to disrupt ISIS' communications, recruitment, and financial operations. American officials are also hopeful that their open discussion of the cyber campaign will force ISIS operatives to doubt the security of their communications.
The Cyber Command had previously focused its efforts on thwarting and retaliating against cyberattacks from Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia. The campaign against ISIS is being carried out by "national mission teams," which have placed "implants" in ISIS networks to study the group's behavior online. The goal is to eventually mimic or change their messages to support military operations against ISIS, with officials telling the Times that cyberattacks may be used to disrupt financial transfers, as well.
"We are dropping cyberbombs."
"We are dropping cyberbombs," Robert Work, the deputy secretary of defense, told reporters this month. "We have never done that before."
The campaign marks the latest effort to combat ISIS online; the group has proven effective in recruiting potential militants on social media, and administration officials have met with leading tech companies to develop counter-messaging strategies. But the plan to involve Cyber Command was met with some resistance at the NSA, officials tell the Times, with some expressing concerns that ISIS may shift to more secure channels once monitoring implants are used to mount military operations.
President Obama is scheduled to discuss anti-ISIS efforts on Monday on Hanover, where he will meet with leaders from Britain, France, Italy, and Germany