Pro-Islamic State Hackers Commandeer Howard County Government Website

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Photo by Colin, via Wikimedia Commons

A digital hijacking has unfolded in Howard County.

Since Sunday afternoon, the homepage of the howardcountymd.gov website has been replaced with a black screen that contains brashly worded text threatening our sitting president and praising the sprawling international terrorist group Islamic State.

The county has since shut off access to web users, though the preview text on Google still reads: “Hacked by Team System Dz. Anti: Govt all word. You will be held accountable Trump,. you and all your people. for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim.”

Still via Google

A couple area outlets managed to take screen grabs of the homepage before it was shut down. Additional text at the bottom reads, “I Love Islamic State.”

Howard County fell victim to a nationally coordinated attack, according to the AP. A less typo-riddled version of the above appeared on Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s website and others on the state server, and similar incidents yesterday targeted towns in Ohio, New York and Louisiana.

Team System Dz, the entity that took credit for the attacks, is a pro-Islamic State group that’s been disrupting government internet activity for years. Similar hackings have happened in France, Israel, the United Kingdom and Sweden, as well as the United States. The group is based in Algeria, the AP says.

Howard County’s IT guys are working on it, according to a Facebook update on the county government page from around 4:40 p.m. yesterday.

“Thank you to those of who noticed that the Howard County Government website may have been hacked,” it reads. “Our IT team was alerted to the problem, has identified the issue and expects to have it resolved shortly. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

The site is still down as of 9:30 a.m.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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