Ohio's Governor And Other State Websites Hacked With Pro-ISIS Propaganda

A number of government websites, including that of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, were hacked on Sunday, displaying what appeared to be ISIS propaganda.

Visitors to several US government websites on Sunday were greeted with a black screen and a message claiming the sites had been taken over by pro-ISIS hackers.

"You will be held accountable Trump," the message read, "you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries."

Signed by "Team System Dz," the message ended, "I Love Islamic state."

Team System Dz apparently hacked numerous sites on Sunday, including several government websites in Ohio, such as the official sites for Gov. John Kasich, the Ohio Department of Medicaid, the Ohio first lady's office, and at least five other state agencies. The websites for the town of Brookhaven, New York, and Maryland's Howard County were also affected, according to the Associated Press.

The websites all displayed the same message as the one above.

In recent years, "Team System Dz" has carried out far-reaching hacks against local governments, vandalizing websites for places like Richland County, Wisconsin, and Aberdeen, Scotland.

The website Cryptosphere, which tracks global hacking news, refers to Team System Dz as a "pro-ISIS hacker crew," and says it is likely a group of teenagers based in Algeria. The site says there are thousands of possible Team System Dz attacks.

Cryptosphere first reported on Team System Dz in 2014, when the group made national headlines after taking down over 200 websites, including the site for the student union at the University of New Brunswick in Canada. Though these were described as "low-level hacks" on easy targets, the group was able to gain attention by going after many websites at the same time. The attacks inflicted no lasting damage on the sites.

The following year, Team System Dz started going after government sites, hacking several municipal websites in Richland County, Wisconsin. The Richland County Sheriff's Department told the Wisconsin State Journal at the time that no sensitive information or data was accessed.

Earlier this year, the group targeted Aberdeen City Council in Scotland. The council said no personal or financial data was on the website, the BBC reported.

Officials in Ohio confirmed the cyberattacks on Sunday, and said they were investigating how the hackers were able to gain access to the state websites.

Alex Brandon / AP

The hack appears to have occurred sometime on Sunday, Tom Hoyt, chief communications officer for Ohio's Department of Administrative Services, told BuzzFeed News.

“All affected servers have been taken offline and we are investigating how these hackers were able to deface these websites,” Hoyt said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed News. “We also are working with law enforcement to better understand what happened.”

Hoyt said all of the Ohio websites would be back up by Monday morning.

The Howard County website was taken offline Sunday after it was hacked and was restored on Monday by the county's IT staff, who worked overnight, Allan Kittleman, the county's executive, told BuzzFeed News. He emphasized that no data or personal information was compromised as a result of the attack.

"This website is on a public network hosted by a third party contractor and is completely separate from the Howard County Government network," Kittleman said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "Howard County was among a number of sites across the country that were subject to this type of cyber intrusion."

Kittleman added that the county was working with federal law enforcement agencies and would not comment further until the investigation was completed.

Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, a 2018 Republican Senate candidate, had a harsher response. "Wake up freedom-loving Americans," he tweeted on Sunday. "Radical Islam infiltrating the heartland."

OH Dept of Corrections website right now, this is what you see. Wake up freedom-loving Americans. Radical Islam inf… https://t.co/FUoPcVXQCg



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.