ISIS-Linked Hackers Ground Airline’s Website

ISIS-Linked Hackers Ground Airline's Website

( – As humanity has evolved, so too has its ability to make war on one another. The world has progressed from soldiers armed with swords and catapults launching boulders to weapons of mass destruction, and now in the 21st Century, many are waging battles in cyberspace. Even the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has a branch dedicated to this battlefield known as the United Cyber Caliphate (Team UCC), and according to out of India, they have recently tried to flex their muscle there.


According to the story, the terrorist group took aim at Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and launched a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on their operations. This action is said to have caused their server to crash, as well as that of an online banking/payment service that works closely with the airlines called JazzCash. Screenshots posted to Twitter purportedly show Team UCC’s claim of responsibility. The group also allegedly targeted sites in Bangladesh.

A DDoS attack is accomplished when malicious actors take control of a series of computers or other IoT (Internet of Things) devices and use them all to bombard the target with requests for information. One way to visualize the attack is to imagine an interstate where passengers are using their cars on their daily commute when suddenly thousands of automobiles going nowhere in particular appear and create the mother of all traffic jams.

Dr. Sylvia Baldassarre of the University of Florence, Italy, had an article published on March 29 in the peer-reviewed MDPI Journal about the shift of terrorism into the digital realm by religious fundamentalists such as ISIS. After their attempt to establish a physical caliphate finally fell apart in 2019, they set up Team UCC to use “the Internet not only to prepare and organize [sic] terrorist attacks but also to conduct cyber-attacks.”

Could It Happen Here?

In the United States, these types of attacks of attacks are sadly not unheard of. One of the most significant was the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in 2021. This caused the pipeline, one of the largest in the US, to shut down and created shortages of oil and gas throughout the Northeast.

To protect and prevent these types of attacks, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is tasked with the mission to “lead the national effort to understand, manage, and reduce the risk” to protect both the physical and digital infrastructure of the country. Examples of the effort they put forth are helping organizations blunt the effects of any ransomware attack and advising people on how to protect their online information after natural disasters.

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