The New York Post follows up today on the Muslim hack attacks being waged on bloggers and websites that support Denmark and publication of the Mohammed cartoons:
Muslim computer-hacker gangs have launched a massive attack on Danish and Western Web sites as part of the mass protests across the Arab world over the publication of cartoons making fun of the Prophet Mohammed.
The cyber-crime monitoring group Zone-H.org said in a statement that more than 1,000 Danish, Israeli and European sites were defaced or shut down by Islamic hackers in the last week.
And experts fear that’s just the beginning of what could be a massive cyber-jihad stretching from the Middle East and Europe to the United States and dominating cyberspace for weeks, costing millions of dollars. “We have definitely seen a spike in the number of attacks. This definitely appears to be the result of the controversy over the Prophet Mohammed cartoons,” said Jim Melnick of the cyber-security firm iDefense. “A full-blown e-jihad is a real possibility.”
In Denmark, where the cartoon crisis first erupted, more than 578 Web sites have been struck by hackers, Zone-H.org reported. Web targets included Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that published the 12 cartoons, a Danish country-music site, a gambling site and a motorcycle-fan site, experts said.
Most of the attacks are “defacements,” in which sites are hacked and sprayed with messages.
The e-graffiti mixes profanity with calls for an Islamic boycott of Danish goods and warnings of suicide bombings…
Howard Altman at the Tampa Tribune has another informative follow-up on Cyberjihad:
When Stacey Turmel placed an order online with Davida, an English motorcycle accessory company, she was looking for protective gear with style and comfort.
But after plunking down $255 for a two-tone Deluxe Jet helmet, she found herself dragged into the shadowy world of global jihad.
Turmel, a St. Petersburg lawyer, has learned that she was among several Davida customers whose personal and credit information was placed on a public Web site – 3asfh.net. The site, hosted temporarily by a Tampa-based Web-hosting company, has been used to exchange information on hacking by people waging war in the name of Islam.
“It was scary to find out that jihadis had my personal information,” Turmel said.
Her loss was modest. After checking records in the spring of 2002, she found several small charges she did not make – none more than $40, but other victims discovered attempts to charge more than $1,000.
Investigators and Internet security experts say much more is at stake.
Computer hackers – from wayward teens to organized crime syndicates to groups associated with al-Qaida – steal hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Hack attacks such as the one against Turmel are a key weapon of global jihad, experts say…
I’ve just read your blog entry about the coordinated hacking attacks from the Islamic world. They targeted my site on the same day they targeted zombie’s. I know where they are launching one of their main attacks from. There is an Islamic hacking message forum that coordinates these attacks, apparently. I saw the IP addresses that accessed my site, and it matched those who spammed and flooded my site. My site was offline for 5 hours 2 days ago, and 3 hours yesterday… 2 hours today. Fortunately my host has been very helpful and we have inserted those malignant IP’s into our firewall. So far so good…
Nordish.net is hosting a mirror site of the archive here.
Meanwhile, Judith Apter Klinghoffer reports on Iranian hackers waging war on the Internet.
As I’ve said before: Forewarned is forearmed.
Glenn Reynolds publishes two of the Mohammed cartoons and adds: “Hardly worth rioting over, in my opinion. But the people who do this sort of thing don’t care much about my opinion. So why should I care about theirs?”
Scientific American has an excellent investigative piece, “Virtual Jihad,” online (originally published in December). An excerpt:
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If you read Arabic and want a degree in jihad, click on http://www.al-farouq.com/vb/. If you’re lucky–the site disappears and reappears–you will see a post that belongs to the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF). It announces the “Al Qaeda University of Jihad Studies.” According to Ahmad al-Wathiq Billah, the GIMF “Deputy General Emir,” students “pass through faculties devoted to the cause of the caliphate through morale boosting and bombings,” and the site offers specialization in “electronic, media, spiritual and financial jihad.”
The Internet has long been essential for terrorism, but what has surprised experts is the growth of such Islamist (radical Islam) and jihadist sites. Their continuing rise suggests that recruitment for a “holy war” against the West could proceed unabated, despite capture of key leaders.
According to Gabriel Weimann, a professor of communications at the University of Haifa in Israel, the number of all terrorist Web sites–those advocating or inciting terrorism or political violence–has grown from a dozen in 1997 to almost 4,700 today, a nearly 400-fold increase. (By comparison, the total number of Web sites has risen about 50- to 100-fold.) The enumeration includes various Marxist, Nazi and racist groups, but by far the dominant type, according to Weimann, is the Islamist-jihadist variety, which accounts for about 70 percent.
The war in Iraq provides plenty of motivation for radicals, and the Internet appears to be facilitating them, even if legitimate governments shun them. “We are talking about groups that are opposed and persecuted all over the Arab and Muslim world, so the Internet becomes the only alternative to spread their messages,” says Reu�ven Paz, director of PRISM (Project for the Research of Islamist Movements), a watchdog group in Herzliya, Israel. The spread “is like an attempt to create a virtual Islamic nation.”
Scott Atran, a research director at the Jean Nicod Institute of the CNRS in Paris, studies the group dynamics of terrorists. He notes that the attackers of Madrid, London and Bali were autonomous groups, like “swarms that aggregate to strike and then vanish.” The open, anarchic structure of the Internet supports this “chaotic dynamics” modus operandi as a way for militants to recruit new members and look for goals or inspiration. “Without the Internet, the extreme fragmentation and decentralization of the jihadi movement into a still functioning global network just would not be possible,” Atran argues. “I think we can expect more independent attacks by autonomous groups because of the Internet.”
Atran cites the Madrid train bombings on March 11, 2004, as a good example: a computer of one of the attackers showed evidence of systematic downloading from the same site that delivered a document entitled “Jihadi Iraq: Hopes and Dangers,” which had circulated on the Net some months before the massacre. Among other charges, the document called for attacking Spain to force a withdrawal of that nation’s troops from Iraq…
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