The Unites States shifts its strategy against ISIS and will make use of cyberattacks to crack down on the terrorist organization.
According to a report from The New York Times, the U.S. Cyber Command is in charge of a campaign aimed at buckling ISIS's operations, from communications to financial and recruitment. The U.S. military is certain that being open about the operations will cause ISIS leaders to be more fearful and even start doubting their chain of command.
It is a premiere for the administration to go public and admit that it wants to make use of digital weaponry. Not sooner than four years ago, U.S. officials refused to acknowledge that the United States was using offensive cyberweapons, and denied involvement in any attacks on computer networks.
Susan E. Rice, President Obama's national security adviser, said that ISIS countermeasures need to be taken on multiple fronts - and computers are just the latest addition to the arsenal. After a meeting with the CIA earlier this month, President Barrack Obama himself notified the media about the operations.
"Our cyberoperations are disrupting their command-and-control and communications," the Obama administration says.
Previously, the Cyber Command polled its efforts in a defensive manner, trying to fend off and strike back against state-backed cyberthreats originating from North Korea, Russia, China and Iran.
According to the NYT, the campaign deploys "national mission teams" in the networks used by ISIS to study the organization's modus operandi. The end goal is to replicate and modify the communication in the terrorist organization, such that its operations will be compromised. The U.S. military plans to wreak havoc in the financial operations of ISIS, as well.
"We are dropping cyberbombs," says Robert Work, the deputy secretary of defense. He adds that the measure is the first of its kind.
ISIS is known to have a prominent presence in the online environment. The organization was surprisingly efficient in the recruitment of potential militants using social media. In response, state officials contacted names from the tech industry in order to craft counter-messaging strategies.
The National Security Agency (NSA), however, was less than enthusiastic about Cyber Command's involvement. The NSA spent years penetrating networks and inserting implants that can monitor the activity of malicious groups.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Military wants to act upon the gathered information and draw terrorists into traps. As any intelligence specialist can attest, deploying ground or air action blows the cover of the implant, a thing that NSA does all in its power to avoid.
The anti-ISIS efforts will take a new route via cooperation between the U.S., Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. Talks are scheduled for this week to take place in Hannover over the global threat of terrorism and possible countermeasures.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Defense Secretary confirmed that the United States will put Cyber Command in warfare status against ISIS.
The Cyber Command team has existed since 2009, when it was established as a way to keep digital attacks at bay. The officials kept mum about the initiatives of the agency after its creation. However, the recent announcement has underlined that in today's complicated global situation, cyberwarfare and conventional battle are merging into one.