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Pentagon Cybersecurity Initiative Targets Digitally Dimwitted Terrorists

© AFP 2022 / Thomas SamsonThe US government on June 4 said that hackers accessed the personal data of at least four million current and former federal employees.
The US government on June 4 said that hackers accessed the personal data of at least four million current and former federal employees. - Sputnik International
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Hackers undisputedly cost businesses and individuals hundreds of millions of dollars and their actions sometimes even result in bodily harm or death; the Pentagon has capitalized on this by fueling fearful rhetoric over the purported threat posed by terrorist groups to justify any number of big-budget cybersecurity programs.

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But the hacking capabilities of Daesh are thought by many to be overblown, leading to a popular opinion by more knowledgeable heads that the fundamentalist group is not such an online danger after all.

The small number of amateur cyber-jockeys who seek to harm the US use poor encryption and are barely capable of writing unsophisticated malware; these extremists pose practically no online threat to US National Security, according to Meg King, a Director of the Digital Futures Project at the Wilson Center and Grayson Clary, a Research Associate with the Digital Futures Project.

In late August 2015, Junaid Hussain, a "British national considered the Islamic State's most capable hacker — though that may not have been a high bar to clear," King wrote, was killed in a targeted airstrike by the US.

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US airstrikes targeting Daesh have killed two of the group's known hackers, including Siful Haque Sujan, who graduated from an information technology school in the UK and was "supporting (Daesh) hacking efforts, anti-surveillance technology and weapons development," according to the Pentagon.

Sujan was labeled a "top hacker" by Hussain, and the capabilities of both men were often overstated in the media. While Hussain enjoyed some notoriety for a string of nuisance attacks, none of his efforts amounted to real damage, as his tools and scripts were easily identified and neutralized.

The current US military strategy of targeted killing campaigns arguably seeks to make individual militants more important than they actually are. Dead, Sujan and Hussein carry more weight as a symbol of martyrdom, and their deaths can easily be manipulated to prompt more recruits.

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