Ohio government websites restored after pro-ISIS hack


COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio officials said Monday morning they restored 11 government websites that were hacked with a message purporting to be supportive of the Islamic State terrorist group.

A spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services says affected websites were restored by Monday morning. That department is working with public safety officials to investigate how sites were hacked Sunday with a message that ended with: “I love the Islamic state.”

It affected websites for the governor and his wife, the lieutenant governor and the inspector general, as well as Ohio’s Medicaid and prisons agencies. The list also included sites for Ohio’s casino and facilities commissions, the offices of Health Transformation and Workforce Transformation, and the government streamlining effort LeanOhio.

The same message infiltrated government websites in Brookhaven, New York, and Howard County, Maryland.

A message posted on the website of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich said, “You will be held accountable Trump, you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries.”

The message was left by “Team System Dz.” In the past, the group also claimed responsibility for similar hacks in the past in Richland County, Wisconsin, and in places such as Aberdeen, Scotland, and Sweden.

Several other government websites were hacked in Ohio, including that of first lady Karen Kasich, Medicaid, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Casino Control Commission.

Tom Hoyt, chief communications officer for Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services, was among Ohio officials who confirmed the hack.

“All affected servers have been taken offline and we are investigating how these hackers were able to deface these websites,” he said over the weekend. “We also are working with law enforcement to better understand what happened.”

He said the hacking in Ohio happened at about 11 a.m. EDT Sunday.

The hack is part of ongoing cyberterrorism that has impacted governments and corporations across the globe.

Some see these types of hacks — sometimes called “defacement” — as simply a nuisance, though in some instances, they have been disruptive to work and government life.

But others see cause for alarm. “Wake up freedom-loving Americans. Radical Islam infiltrating the heartland,” Josh Mandel, the Ohio treasurer and a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said in a tweet Sunday.

Authors of the website “Cryptosphere,” which tracks hackers worldwide, have detailed dozens, if not hundreds, of similar hacks in recent years by the so-called Team System DZ, which they called a “pro-ISIS hacker crew” and claim are based in Algeria.

Impacted websites, they said, have included those for a synagogue in Florida, the student union at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, for UK Rugby and a number of websites on WordPress.