Hackers black out French TV5, hijack websites to back Islamic State

The hackers briefly cut transmission of 11 channels belonging to TV5 Monde and took over its websites and social media accounts. The message on the TV5 Monde website read in part “I am IS” with a banner by a group that called itself Cybercaliphate.

The Islamic extremist group has claimed complex hackings before but the seizure of the French network appeared to be a new step in its information warfare tactics.

Both the website and social media accounts were hacked and warnings posted against French participation in air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. All 11 channels went black for three hours until prerecorded programming was directed to fill viewers’ blank screens, said TV5 Monde Director General Yves Bigot.

“For the moment, we are unable to produce our own programs,” Bigot told France-24 television, calling the attack “unprecedented in the history of television.” He said one television channel had been restored but it would be hours, possibly even days, before the entire network was again functional due to the need to scour the systems for residual infection.

The hackers also temporarily controlled TV5’s Facebook page and other social media accounts. For two hours before the network recovered those sites, an image of a masked militant filled the page under the title “Cybercaliphate.”

Another post warned that French President Francois Hollande committed “an unforgivable mistake” by joining Western forces in attacking Islamic State,  adding that the offensive is  “a war that serves no purpose.”