Ten Ohio Government Websites Hacked with Pro-ISIS Message

The same pro-Islamic State message also appeared Sunday on the website of Brookhaven, New York.

by Alissa Widman Neese, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio / June 26, 2017
The affected websites include that of Gov. John Kasich. governor.ohio/home

(TNS) -- Ohio state government is working to restore 10 websites that were hacked Sunday afternoon.

At about noon, the government Web pages were replaced with messages in support of the Islamic State and opposing President Donald Trump. Those messages were removed, and as of 4:30 a.m. Monday the websites still said they're down for maintenance.

Two affected computer servers were taken offline and an investigation is ongoing, said Tom Hoyt, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

"We are also working with law enforcement to better understand what happened," Hoyt said.

The affected websites include those for Gov. John Kasich, First Lady Karen Kasich, the Inspector General, the Department of Medicaid, the Casino Control Commission, LeanOhio, the Office of Workforce Transformation, the Office of Health Transformation and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

The pages were replaced with a message stating "You will be held accountable Trump, you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries."

"I Love Islamic State," it said.

A group called Team System Dz claimed responsibility for the hack and provided a link to its Facebook page. The same pro-Islamic State message also appeared Sunday on the website of Brookhaven, a town on New York's Long Island, about 50 miles from Manhattan, according to the New York Post.

Emmalee Kalmbach, Kasich's press secretary, provided a statement: "As soon as we were notified of the situation, we immediately began to correct it and will continue to monitor until fully resolved."

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2018, posted a screenshot of the hacked Department of Rehabilitation and Correction website to his social media pages Sunday shortly after the cyberattacks.

"Wake up freedom-loving Americans," Mandel said on his Facebook page. "Radical Islam infiltrating the heartland."

Authors of the website "Cryptosphere," which tracks hackers worldwide, have detailed dozens, if not hundreds, of similar hacks in recent years by the so-called Team System DZ, which they called a "pro-ISIS hacker crew" and claim are based in Algeria.

Impacted websites, according to Cryptosphere, have included those for a synagogue in Florida, the student union at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, for UK Rugby and a number of websites on Wordpress.

The hack is part of ongoing cyberterrorism that has impacted governments and corporations across the globe.

Some see these types of hacks — sometimes called "defacement" — as simply a nuisance, though in some instances, they have been disruptive to work and government life.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

©2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.