An ISIS-related hacking group recently posted an online hit list containing the names and personal information of some 3,000 New Yorkers. Experts say that this is most likely a fear-mongering tactic, as the names appear to have been chosen randomly from old lists, but the FBI is nonetheless contacting anyone whose name or personal information was posted.
The list names government employees working for the State Department and Homeland Security, according to ABC, but also has the names of many average New Yorkers living across the city. NBC New York appears to have gained access to the data, and mapped the locations of New Yorkers on the list—there looks to be a high concentration in northern Brooklyn, with considerably fewer in Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Have fun in the comments with that one.
An FBI spokesperson said that the agency is making contact with everyone listed, but there's no way for people to preemptively look up whether their names are on the list.
"The FBI routinely notifies individuals and organizations of information collected during the course of an investigation that may be perceived as potentially threatening in nature," the spokesperson said. "Potential threats may relate to individuals, institutions, or organizations, and are shared in order to sensitize potential victims to the observed threat, and to assist them in taking proper steps to ensure their safety."
One of the people on the list, an 88-year-old man named Art, told NBC that the FBI warned him to be cautious when going out in public, and to call 911 if he feels threatened—but he's not too worried.
"It sounds like psychological warfare," he said. "Make 3,000 people in this city very upset...I'm not going to even do what they're saying, be cautious in the street, because it's nonsense, it's nonsense."
The U.S. recently began its own cyberattacks on ISIS, as the New York Times reported, dropping what one official described as "cyberbombs." It's not clear whether this particular hit list was posted in response to these attacks, but on Tuesday, hackers in the United Cyber Caliphate posted to Telegram that the "technical US-led war against Islamic State...is just a 'fake,'" but that President Obama should "#Expect the Islamic State #soon."
Yesterday, cybersecurity experts released new research indicating that "while the threat that emanates from ISIS-inspired cyber attacks is of high concern, especially in light of the formation of a new United Cyber Caliphate composed of previously disparate pro-ISIS hacking collectives, these hacking groups still operate unofficially and remain poorly organized and are likely underfunded." In other words, there's no immediate need to panic—and if your name is on this latest list, rest assured that you'll be informed by the FBI.