The FBI is investigating the hacks of a number of American-based websites that appear to have been perpetrated by supporters of the militant Islamic group ISIS.
Montauk Manor, a historic resort hotel based in Montauk, NY, was one of the victims of the weekend attacks.
On Saturday, visitors to the hotel’s website were greeted with an image of the black ISIS logo and the words “There is no God but God” written in Arabic.
The ISIS flag followed wherever visitors clicked on the site, as did an audio file that played Islamic music.
Underneath the ISIS logo, the hackers wrote “Hacked by Islamic State. We are everywhere,” followed by the “;)” emoticon. They also provided a link to a Facebook page of one Mohammed Ali, who used the “trollface” meme as their profile picture.
As of this writing, the Montauk Manor’s website has been returned to normal.
Other victims of the weekend hacks included the following:
- Two companies in St. Louis: MERS Goodwill and the digital agency Elasticity.
- Moerlein Lager House and Montgomery Inn in Cleveland, in addition to Eldora Speedway.
- Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka, California.
- Backbar, a cocktail bar in Somerville, Massachusetts.
- Third Street Brewhouse in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
- North Douglas Pentecostal Church in Saanich, British Columbia.
On Sunday, it was reported that ISIS supporters had also hacked the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in Dublin, Ireland, whose homepage displayed the same images and messages reported above.
Montauk Manor and the sites based in St. Louis all use Liquid Web, a hosting company which after a short investigation determined that one of its clients, as well as a number of sites they administer, had been compromised.
“We take the security of our clients very seriously and, in addition to our efforts maintaining secure networks and data centers, we strongly encourage our users to maintain updated software,” Liquid Web said in a statement.
“We are working with the client to restore the sites and ensure this account’s security moving forward.”
The hacks have attracted the attention of numerous media outlets. Even so, despite the attackers’ numerous references to ISIS, security professionals and law enforcement alike believe that the hacks were a hoax.
“There are no indications that the individuals behind these latest hacks have any real connection to ISIS,” Evan Kohlmann of Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm, told NBC News.
“These defacements have taken place amid a spate of recent attacks where ordinary hackers have cynically used far-fetched references to ISIS as a means of attracting media attention.”
Silver Bow County Sheriff Ed Lester, who responded to an ISIS-related hack of a community federal credit union, shares Kohlmann’s sentiments: “I don’t think ISIS agents would be interested in a hack like this. I think this is more likely a domestic hacker rather than international cyber terrorism.”
The FBI’s investigation is currently ongoing.