The cyberattack on TalkTalk, which saw more than four million customer details compromised by hackers, could be a watershed moment in Islamic State's (Isis) cyberwar against the West, cybersecurity experts have warned. The hack has been claimed by a group that posted Islamic extremist rhetoric alongside a sample of the data dump on 23 October, stating "Jihad from us is coming".
If the group's claims prove to be legitimate, this would be the first major cyberattack to be carried out by hackers associated with IS and could signal the emergence of the terrorist organisation as a significant cyber threat. It could also mean the TalkTalk hack could be the first in a wave of major breaches.
"Historically, Islamic State has not had a great deal of technical savvy," Cameron Brown, a leading cybersecurity expert, told IBTimes UK. "However, they have consistently showed an interest in this area and have made minor waves in the past, mostly for the purpose of propaganda.
"It would be a watershed moment if it was indeed them who carried out the TalkTalk hack, as there has never been solid evidence that they have these sorts of capabilities. The problems associated with attribution is that it's hard to say exactly who's involved. We're in the very early stages of what needs to be an extensive investigation."
The data dump, titled "Message from TalkTalk Hackers", featured customer details that included phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, TalkTalk account numbers and bank details. The accompanying message stated: "We Will Teach our Children To Use The Web For Allah.. Your Hands Will Be Covered In Blood.. Judgement Day Is Soon."
It continued: "Our One Childrens Name Is Mohammed. Your Women Are being Taken Over By Us. Your Children are being Killed By Us For Being S**t On Earth. WE Are In The Soviet Russia And Near Place, Your Europe, WE control Asia, We Control AMERICA. Prepare, Secure Your Websites, Secure Your Borders, Secure Your Country, But Jihad From Us Is Coming."
The data from the dump appears to be genuine, with several of the email addresses and phone numbers contacted by IBTimes UK confirming they were either currently TalkTalk customers or had been at some stage in the past. A TalkTalk spokesperson also confirmed to IBTimes UK that it was aware of the leaked customer details and said the matter was being investigated by police.
Brown noted that while the details may be genuine, this did not necessarily mean the group posting had carried out the cyberattack that compromised TalkTalk. The customer details are likely to have already found their way on to the dark web, where credit card details and other valuable information could be sold to the highest bidder.
"Islamic State's whole propaganda machine is geared towards generating publicity," Brown said. "They may well have obtained access from others to claim involvement."