French TV Network Taken Off-Air After Devastating Attack from Pro-ISIS Hackers

A group of pro Islamic State hackers knocked out a public French television station, TV5Monde, and hacked their social media accounts protesting French military in Iraq.

The group known under the hacker alias, Cyber Caliphate, is a pro-ISIS hacking group who managed to take an entire French TV network off-air, hijacking their website and social media accounts.

Eleven channels belonging to the French-language TV network, which broadcasts throughout more than 200 countries around the world stopped serving TV programmes after, what the company described as an “extremely powerful cyberattack,” plagued the station.

After the network turned off air, TV5Monde general director, Yves Bigot, called an emergency meeting to discuss the incident, where he was told it could take TV5Monde station several days to recover from the devastating attack.

“We are no longer able to broadcast any of our channels. Our websites and social media sites are no longer under our control and are all displaying claims of responsibility by Islamic State,” Bigot was told.

After hacking TV5Monde’s social media accounts, Cyber Caliphate attackers began posting threats against French troops, leaking documents alleged to be the ID cards and resumes of French soldiers in anti-ISIS operations. Similar threats and messages were also displayed alongside TV5Monde’s website.

TV5Monde’s Facebook page was taken down and successfully restored Thursday, but the website remained offline.

The French Foreign Ministry confirmed the attacks were coming from individuals supporting the Islamic State. French Foreign, interior and culture ministers visited the channel’s office in Paris and pledged to identify those responsible for the TV5Monde attack.

“We are faced with determined terrorists, and we are determined to fight them,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said, adding that cybersecurity measures need to be carefully reinforced.

A judicial source said a preliminary investigation for the individuals has already begun. Fleur Pellerin, Culture Minister spoke with head broadcasters to help asses additional weak spots and how to properly patch the security holes in the TV5Monde network, warning to be on the lookout for any additional attacks.

“We told (them) to be vigilant without being excessively anxious on everything that could constitute a risk factor or vulnerability in their network,” Pellerin said.

French IT security agency, ANSII, told Reuters the attack was quite sophisticated and will take the company several months to rebuild the broadcaster’s network.

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