The U.S. military is starting to ramp up cyberattacks against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, the Associated Press reported Feb. 26.
Launched from Fort Meade, Md. where U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA) is based, the attacks are targeting ISIS’ abilities to use social media and the Internet generally to recruit fighters and inspire follows, the report said.
U.S. operators are attempting a range of attacks to see which do and do not work. Officials noted the attacks include efforts to prevent ISIS from distributing propaganda, videos, and other types of recruiting and messaging on social media sites and across the Internet, the report said.
The report said Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been frustrated that while Cyber Command has grown it was still focused on cyber threats from nations like Russia, China, and Iran and did not build a force to block communications and propaganda from Internet-savvy extremist groups like ISIS.
This increase in operations reportedly began after Carter met with commanders at Fort Meade in January. The most recent meeting also included chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford on Jan. 27, where the commanders received an update on cyber efforts.
Despite the Pentagon’s cyber attacks, it is limiting itself over intelligence agency concerns that blocking the group’s Internet access entirely would hurt intelligence gathering, the report said.
Carter confirmed Cyber Command is starting operations against ISIS while at a hearing at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on Feb. 25.