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The U.S. Justice Department recently announced that Malaysian authorities have detained Kosovo citizen Ardit Ferizi in Malaysia on a U.S. provisional arrest warrant charging Ferizi with hacking, identity theft, and providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Ferizi is believed to be the hacker "Th3Dir3ctorY," the head of the hacking group Kosova Hacker's Security (KHS). He's accused of hacking into a U.S. retailer and stealing thousands of people's personally identifiable information (PII), then providing the PII of over 1,000 U.S. service members and federal employees to ISIL member Junaid Hussain, a.k.a. Abu Hussain al-Britani, between June and August of 2015.
On August 11, 2015, Hussain tweeted, "NEW: U.S. Military AND Government HACKED by the Islamic State Hacking Division!" along with a link to a 30-page document listing the names, email addresses, email passwords, locations and phone numbers of approximately 1,351 U.S. military and government personnel.
The document also stated that "we are in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move, we have your names and addresses, we are in your emails and social media accounts, we are extracting confidential data and passing on your personal information to the soldiers of the khilafah, who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands!"
"National security is compromised by computer intrusions, and Ferizi is charged with obtaining the personal identifying information of U.S. military and government personnel and providing it to ISIL," U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente said in a statement. "We will investigate and prosecute these cyber attacks to [the] fullest extent of the law."
"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 Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin added. "This arrest demonstrates our resolve to confront and disrupt ISIL’s efforts to target Americans, in whatever form and wherever they occur."
The U.S. is seeking Ferizi's extradition to stand trial. If convicted, he faces up to 35 years in prison.
"It used to be that American servicemen and women needed to be seen in uniform to make them a target," STEALTHbits channel marketing manager Jeff Hill told eSecurity Planet by email. "Now terrorists -- with the help of their cyber-criminal vendors -- can target them from halfway around the world."
"In a very short period of time, data security has gone from a discipline designed to prevent financial loss to, literally, a matter of life and death," Hill added.
A recent eSecurity Planet article examined the growing threat of cyber war.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.