The Islamic State is making efforts to conduct cyber attacks against the United States government and civilian targets.
The group has tried to breach computers regulating the country’s electricity grid, according to officials. Pictures and videos showing airplane cockpits, with sympathizers of the group discussing crashing the jets by penetrating into onboard electronics, have appeared on a few online forums.
However, the extremist group has been limited in its efforts in this regard because of lack of expertise, as reported by Politico. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said in September that the danger of a cyber attack from the group was “remote.”
In the past, cyber attacks have caused disruption for the U.S. During the hacking of the government’s central personnel office computers believed to have been carried out by China, as many as 22 million individual records were stolen. The annual loss American companies experience to cyber attacks amount to 0.64 percent of gross domestic product – an amount estimated to be $115 billion. For cyber defense, an excess of $5 billion is spent by the U.S. government each year.
Using digital weapons to strike the U.S. would be easier than launching traditional attacks by infiltrating militants across the border. FBI Director James Comey said, “I see them already starting to explore things that are concerning, critical infrastructure, things like that. The logic of it tells me it’s coming, and so of course I’m worried about it.”
The imminent danger isn’t only confined to the U.S. Britain’s top treasury official warned of a cyber attack on the financial system or power grid, which came merely four days after the deadly Paris attacks wherein 130 people were killed. George Osborne, the U.S. chancellor of the exchequer said, “We know they want it and are doing their best to build it.”
The terror group’s Cyber Caliphate hacking unit gained control of the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube feeds in January. In November, more than 50,000 Twitter accounts were seized to spread propaganda. However, these cyber attacks didn’t cause physical damage.