Malaysia arrests ISIL hacker

Malaysia arrests ISIL hacker

Reuters

At the request of the United States, Malaysia arrested a man on charges of hacking personal data of more than 1,000 U.S. officials and handing it to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Syria so they could target the individuals.

The man, 20-year-old Ardit Ferizi from Kosovo, who entered Malaysia in August 2014 to study computer science and forensics, will be extradited to the United States, police said in October 2015.

The suspect communicated with an ISIL member in Syria about hacking servers containing information and details of U.S security personnel, Malaysian police said.

“The details were then transferred to the operation unit of the IS [Islamic State] group for further action,” the police said.

U.S. government experts say that in practice, ISIL’s hacking exploits have been rudimentary and have done little known damage to any targeted institutions or individuals.

In contrast, the group’s coterie of cyber specialists is regarded by American and allied government counterterrorism agencies as highly sophisticated in its use of social media to spread ISIL’s message and recruit new members and supporters.

The U.S. Justice Department said Ferizi had been charged with hacking the personal information of 1,351 U.S. military personnel and federal employees and supporting ISIL. Ferizi, believed to be the leader of a Kosovar Internet hacking group called Kosova Hacker’s Security, illegally accessed the computer system of a U.S. company and stole the personal identification information (PII) of thousands of individuals, according to the department.

“This case is a first of its kind and, with these charges, we seek to hold Ferizi accountable for his theft of this information and his role in ISIL’s targeting of U.S. government employees,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Carlin said.

The criminal complaint said Ferizi provided the PII to ISIL members, including Junaid Hussain, a British hacker who U.S. and European officials said was a top cyber expert for ISIL in Syria. Hussain, originally from Birmingham, England, was killed in a U.S. drone strike on August 25, 2015, a U.S. source told Reuters at the time.

Between April and August 2015, the complaint said, Ferizi gave PII to ISIL. On August 11, Hussain posted a tweet titled “NEW: U.S. Military AND Government HACKED by the Islamic State Hacking Division!” which contained a hyperlink to a 30-page document.

The document said in part: “We are in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move. We have your names and addresses.”

It said that information would be passed on to ISIL fighters, “who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands!”

The Justice Department said, “This posting was intended to provide ISIL supporters in the United States and elsewhere with the PII belonging to the listed government employees for the purpose of encouraging terrorist attacks against those individuals.”

Muslim-majority Malaysia has not experienced significant militant attacks, but it has arrested more than 100 citizens in 2015 on suspicion of links to ISIL.

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