Anonymous claims it has eliminated 5,500 ISIS Twitter accounts

Cybersecurity Policy Player

The hacking group Anonymous said Tuesday it has taken down 5,500 Twitter accounts tied to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The loosely affiliated collective recently declared cyber war on ISIS in the wake of Friday’s terror attacks on Paris that claimed more than 120 lives.

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On Tuesday morning, “OpParis,” the team orchestrating the digital assault on ISIS, tweeted, “We report that more than 5500 Twitter account of #ISIS are now #down! #OpParis #Anonymous #ExpectUs.”

Several hours later, OpParis tweeted a link to other ISIS targets, declaring “#ISIS tries to stop us, but we’re smarter.”

The link to a post on the text-sharing site Pastebin contained the Web addresses of alleged ISIS-affiliated websites, dark Web pages, Twitter accounts, Tumblr accounts, Facebook pages and Web servers.

While Anonymous lacks any hierarchy, the group has frequently turned its hacking skills on terrorist groups.

In the wake of the ISIS attacks on the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January, Anonymous declared a similar campaign to expunge the online tools ISIS was using to recruit members, disseminate propaganda and plan attacks.

The hackers ended up posting hundreds of social media accounts and websites that it claimed were affiliated with the jihadist group. It also launched a series of denial-of-service attacks on ISIS sites, flooding the pages with phony traffic to disable them.

Although Anonymous has earned praise for its cyberattacks on ISIS, the anarchist group’s tactics and methods remain controversial.

It was heavily criticized last year for incorrectly identifying the shooter of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

And in recent weeks, Anonymous fell short in its promise to “unmask” 1,000 Ku Klux Klan members, releasing a list of around 375 alleged Ku Klux Klan members that appeared largely culled from public data.

While the group’s impact on ISIS remains to be seen, some security experts are cautioning that Anonymous may spur a backlash from hackers sympathetic to ISIS.

“Retaliation on French-based companies following the Anonymous response to the attack in Paris is expected,” said an alert from security firm Radware, which is monitoring the OpParis campaign.