ISIS Wants to Enable Serial Killers by Hacking Surveillance Cameras
ISIS Wants to Enable Serial Killers by Hacking Surveillance Cameras
Terrorist group breaching security cameras to prepare for attacks

The ISIS terrorist group is trying to convince its followers abroad to become serial killers carrying out multiple attacks, instead of a one-off attack, in an attempt to create maximum psychological terror.

Its cyber branch is currently hacking security cameras around the world in an attempt to prevent its attackers to go without being caught while instilling the maximum amount of fear.

ISIS members were sending links to security camera feeds in locations that include Chardon, Ohio; Taipei, Taiwan; Moscow, Russia; Javorovy Vrch, Czech Republic; Switzerland; Finland; Poland; Oldenburg, Germany; and Mexico.

Alongside the camera feeds, they were also sending a link to a YouTube video on how to hack the security cameras from Axis Communications, which broadcasts camera feeds over the internet. The service allows people to view camera feeds and control the cameras from any computer with an internet connection.

The ISIS communications were captured in mid-October by BLACKOPS Cyber, a private intelligence company. The information originated with the United Cyber Caliphate, which recently merged with another terrorist hacker group, the Caliphate Cyber Army. These ISIS hacker organizations typically focus only on spreading pro-ISIS propaganda.

A cyber cafe in Russia is shown in a screenshot from a live camera feed, which ISIS was discussing for a possible attack. (BLACKOPS Cyber)
A cybercafe in Russia is shown in a screenshot from a live camera feed, which ISIS was discussing for a possible attack. (BLACKOPS Cyber)

The plan being discussed by ISIS, according to Ed Alexander, chief intelligence officer of BLACKOPS Cyber, was to “do attacks where those cameras are pointed, and divert those cameras away from the target.”

“They posted the YouTube link on how to exploit those cameras,” Alexander said, and added: “They’re working on it.”

Information on the plot aligns with recent ISIS propaganda that, according to an Oct. 6 report from Express, a U.K. newspaper, is urging followers in the United States and Europe to become serial killers and carry out murders in cities, towns, and villages.

According to Express, the propaganda urges terrorists to use knives in the attacks “because it is easier to carry out large numbers of murders undetected,” and to carry out the murders in secluded locations after dark to make it more difficult for authorities to catch them.

A screenshot from a live camera feed shows a park in the Czech Republic, which was being discussed by ISIS for sprees of coordinated murders. (BLACKOPS Cyber)
A screenshot from a live camera feed shows a park in the Czech Republic, which was being discussed by ISIS for sprees of coordinated murders. (BLACKOPS Cyber)

The New York Times also reported on Oct. 26 that the United States quickly moved forward with its fight to retake Raqqa, Syria, “to disrupt planning believed to be underway there to stage terrorist attacks on the West.” It cited Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, who it says declined to name any specific threats, but said there is a “sense of urgency.”

Alexander said the information aligns with the communications his organization captured. “Our concern was, this is for lone wolves to do attacks,” he said, adding, “The entire premise of it was to be used for attacks.”

The YouTube video ISIS was spreading alongside the online camera feeds shows how to take control of security cameras by using a basic cyberattack. The attack lets the terrorists change a camera’s password, and gain deeper access to its system controls. Using this method, they can then control the cameras remotely.

An unreleased BLACKOPS Cyber intelligence report says: “Our technical operatives reviewed the video and confirmed that the method is indeed viable, is a rootkit exploit, and would require few skills to execute.” A rootkit exploit is something vulnerable to a tool known as a rootkit. The report recommends that cameras running through open systems like these should require better security now that information about their vulnerability is being spread.

The report adds, “Our major concern is that by gaining control of a public surveillance camera, a lone wolf can point the cameras away from what they do not want it to see.”

A still from a camera feed at a beach in Mexico, which was being transmitted by ISIS.
A still from a camera feed at a beach in Mexico, which was being transmitted by ISIS.

germany
A screenshot from a video feed in Oldenburg, Germany that was being sent by ISIS in an attack plot.

taiwan
A screenshot from video feeds in Taipei, Taiwan, which was being transmitted by ISIS.

A still from a camera feed in Germany, which was being transmitted by ISIS.
A still from a camera feed in Germany, which was being transmitted by ISIS.

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