SALISBURY, Md. — The Twitter account for WBOC, a Salisbury-based television station, was hijacked Tuesday by a hacker claiming to be sympathetic to the Islamic State terrorist group.
The account named “CyberCaliphate” has posted pictures and tweets throughout the day claiming to have classified information from federal investigations into terrorist groups through the station’s Twitter account.
WBOC’s website was also hacked, having its top story changed to one posted by “CyberCaliphate” before the station was able to take it down.
Station manager Craig Jahelka said “there are five members of the Salisbury Police Department in my office” and he has been contacted by the FBI for a further investigation.
The station has been able to get control of its website, Jahelka added, but is currently unable to log into its Twitter account. He said officials with Twitter are currently not assisting the station with obtaining control of their account and that he was “not getting any satisfactory answers” from law enforcement as to why his station was targeted specifically.
The Albuquerque News Journal in New Mexico also had its Twitter account hacked by the group Tuesday, posting much of the same material as was found on WBOC’s account.
Requests for comment from the FBI regarding the investigation were not returned.
Laura Iwan, the senior vice president of programs for the Center for Internet Security based in New York, said there are various ways an attack like Tuesday’s could happen.
“If you get an email from someone you supposedly know there’s a link in the email and you click on that link, it may all be bogus. Unbeknownst to you, it installs malware on your machine,” Iwan said.
The center is a nonprofit, with cyber monitoring services in all 50 states in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As experts in the field of protecting user information, Iwan said targets such as banks and news media organizations are tasked with fighting against ever-evolving malicious software.
“The attackers are deploying techniques that make it very hard to detect that this is a malicious piece of software they’re installing,” Iwan said.
When it comes to the hacker’s identity, very little is known. While the account’s banner reads “i love you isis,” a name used to reference the Islamic State, the hacker’s affiliation with the group remains unclear as do the motives.