Virginia county website defaced with Islamic State messages

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A Virginia county was the victim of a cyber attack where a group posted messages and videos praising ISIS, the rebel Islamic group that has leveled threats against the United States.

The messages were posted on the government website of southeastern Virginia’s Isle of Wight County, which has a population of approximately 35,000 residents.

The group, which called themselves Team System DZ, posted “I love ISIS” at the top of the county’s Web page and put up other pro-Islamic State messages and a video of profanity elsewhere on the site.

The images were discovered around 8:30 p.m. Friday, and the site was restored to its previous version around 10 p.m.

“They’ve hacked into some of the best computers in the world,” the county’s information resource manager, Don Robertson, told the local NBC affiliate. “So while we are certainly disappointed, we are going to take every step that we can to clean it up and make sure the public is not impacted by it.”

Robertson added that the website, which he said is run by a third party, has been targeted by hackers in the past.

The hacking comes a day after Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz visited nearby Norfolk State University for a discussion on cybersecurity careers.

The university is not located within the county, though the county is just a few miles away.

Robertson said county staff and federal authorities are investigating the issue to try to determine where the hack came from. He said the FBI told county staff that there were probably 100 other websites around the country that had been hacked by the same group.

The group is not though to have stolen any personal information stored within the site, but instead simply defaced the home page.

State and local governments have been facing increased cyber threats over recent years as they’ve become a target in the wake of increased security requirements within the federal government.

As federal agencies have tightened their security measures, bad actors have turned to state and local governments that house much of the same personal information in their systems, but that typically do not have the same security standards or the security personnel in place, making them an easier target.

The last few years have seen very public cyber attacks in South Carolina, Utah and Oregon state governments and at some major universities, such as the University of Maryland and the University of California, Berkeley.

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cybersecurity, Public Safety, State & Local News, States, Tech News, Virginia
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